Archaeologists uncover foundations of a medieval tower in Malta

July 22nd, 2008 - 3:35 pm ICT by ANI  

Valletta (Malta), July 22 (ANI): Archaeologists have uncovered the foundations of a semi-circular bastion or tower dating to the Late Middle Ages in the town of Mdina in Malta, which is being considered an extraordinary discovery which may shed light on one of the darkest periods of Maltese history.

According to a report carried out in the web portal DI-VE, the almost intact foundations were found directly below Council Square and Xara Palace during the course of preparatory works by the Restoration Unit aimed at consolidation of the Mdina bastions.

The remains became visible after the vegetation cover and the superficial layer of soil were removed. Further remains of an earlier line of medieval fortifications were also found on site, said Nathaniel Cutajar, from the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.

The discovery was immediately reported to the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and an archaeological investigation one of the largest to be carried out in Mdina to date, covering an area of excavation measuring 20 by 5 metres in extent - was launched in collaboration with the Restoration Unit of the Works Division.

Mr Cutajar explained that the tower foundations are semi-circular in shape and are built out of finely cut limestone blocks.

The building technique of the tower suggests a Late Medieval date for this structure, possibly of the 14th or 15th century AD.

This dating seems to be confirmed by the archaeological remains recovered from within this structure.

The tower had apparently been dismantled, probably during one of the reconstructions of the Mdina defenses carried out between the end of the 16th and the 18th centuries AD under the Order of St John.

The older fortified structure consists of a sloping masonry wall, technically known as a talus, which seems to be the lower part of a fortified structure such as a tower or town wall.

This type of fortification is first documented in Crusader period castles in the Near East.

Analysis of the archaeological material recovered from this older fortification at Mdina is still underway.

Preliminary results however indicate that this structure could date to between the 8th and the 10th century AD.

Following the investigation of these archaeological remains, the Restoration Unit has undertaken to amend its plans for the consolidation works of this section of the Mdina bastions, which are in serious danger of collapsing due to the subsidence of clay on which they are resting.

The new plans will allow the semi-circular tower foundations to be conserved. They may eventually be exposed and left permanently visible. (ANI)

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