After fifty years from the discovery of a Roman Villa in the grounds of what was the Carlo Diacono Girls Junior Lyceum at Zejtun, today the media were invited to visit the site for a press briefing organised by Din l-Art Ħelwa.
In the presence of Hon. Dr Mario de Marco, Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, Environment and Culture, Ms. Simone Mizzi, President of Din l-Art Ħelwa, formally launched the conservation project of this important site. This conservation project is being done by the Department of Classics and Archaeology and the Department of Built Heritage of the University of Malta through the generous support of the HSBC Malta Foundation.
The Zejtun Roman Villa was discovered by accident in 1961 when the area was being cleared to make way for the construction of a new government school. The site was archaeologically explored between 1970 and 1976 and the remains of a residential area and a room with tools used for the production of olive oil were found. Only another two sites survive in Malta with similar set-up.
The exposure of the site to the elements over the last 30 years has led to the deterioration of the losinge tiled floors and the painted plaster walls in the residential area of the villa.
In 2006 the University of Malta commenced excavations on the site with the aim of understanding its history. It also teamed up with Din l-Art Ħelwa to raise funds for the conservation and preservation of the site. A generous grant from HSBC Malta Foundation has made it possible to start the first phase of the project. This includes documentation, emergency conservation treatment and the erection of a temporary shelter.
During the brief presentation, both Ms Mizzi and Hon De Marco spoke about the rich heritage which Zejtun possess and praised the Zejtun people for its care and upkeep.
Wirt iż-Żejtun was not only invited for this launch by Din l-Art Ħelwa, but also asked to collaborate with those already involved in this project. Wirt iż-Żejtun is looking forward to give its input and already had informal discussions on the areas which could assist.