New discoveries at Roman Villa in Malta’s Żejtun

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A Roman Villa in Żejtun continued to be used as an olive oil-producing establishment until the end of the third century AD, the University of Malta’s Archaeology department has found.

New discoveries at Roman Villa in Malta's Żejtun
A view of two narrow trenches cut into the rock for planting vines, covered by later Roman
agricultural equipment [Credit: Times of Malta]

A preliminary study of the coins and fragments of imported pottery found by the department also indicated the villa experienced a period of extensive renovation works during the Roman period.




Since 2006, a team from the Classics and Archaeology Department have been entrusted with re-investigating the site in Żejtun. For four weeks each year, a team of students reading for a degree in archaeology collaborate towards piecing together the villa’s complex history as part of their practical training in archaeological excavation.

New discoveries at Roman Villa in Malta's Żejtun
Roman cooking pot from the late 3rd century AD [Credit: Times of Malta]

The studies undertaken during 10 four-week campaigns at the Roman villa have culminated in “exciting results” aboutthe history of the historic place, the Archaeology Department said. Results found the site had been occupied in Punic times after a large cistern was excavated in the rock to collect rainwater.




The land was then used to cultivate grapes, most probably for the production of wine. Sometime before the first century BC, the vineyard was abandoned and in its place the villa was built, clearly making use of recycled stone blocks which belonged to an earlier structure.

New discoveries at Roman Villa in Malta's Żejtun
Bowl inscribed with Punic letters of the 3rd century BC [Credit: Times of Malta]

The remains still visible today belong to a large farming estate, combining living quarters and an area dedicated to agricultural activity.

This year, the archaeologists are concentrating on two particular areas: the area to the north of the site which housed the olive press and a series of walls to the south which marked the southern-most limit of the Roman villa.

Author: Denise Grech | Source: Times of Malta [July 24, 2018]

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