Archaeology

 

In the village of Zurrieq, one will find various archaeological remains dating back from various periods. One of these early findings was discovered in 1885, in the land known as ” ta’ Danieri ” limits of “tal-Hlewwa” . In this location Phoenician tombs were discovered containing the remains of three human skeletons and some pottery. On the 1st of August, 1911 another tomb was found in the fields known as “tal-Gharghariet” limits of Nigret. In the area known as “tal-Bakkari” ruins were unearthed of a chapel, built on even older remains of what is thought to be a Roman temple. One should mention that in the same site, in 1921, pottery dating back to either Punic or Roman times was found in an underground cistern just under the ruins of the same chapel. Some relics were thought to be even of a former period, namely the bronze age. This would indicate that the same sight was used through the ages various peoples, though always for a spiritual purpose.

One should also mention that a couple of metres from this sight, one will find the ruins of one of the towers which is referred to as ‘Torri tal-Bakkari’, which was constructed out of the same type and size of stone as those found in the chapel’s ruins. On the 6th of September, 1920, this tower was identified and compared with the ruins of two other towers partially standing and in a better preserved condition. The other two towers are known as ‘tat-Torrijiet’ and ‘tal-Gawhar’ situated in the areas known as ‘ta’ Wilga’ and ‘tal-Hlantun’ respectively.

There are still contestations to their exact period, yet features may lead one to associate the towers to Bronze or Punic times. All three towers are of a perfect round shape and made of the same type of large stones, typically used long before Roman time, which is the period given by some. This may be determined from near investigation on the site of ‘tal-Gawhar’, were various features in the stone can be observed, such as altar shapes, holes to contain liquid like those used for sacrifice of blood, and other holes which could be used to tie up animals near the same altar .

In August, 1926 a tomb was discovered near the Xarolla Windmill, and from further investigations done on the 6th of the same month, it was determined that the tomb had already been touched and relics taken away, but there were still some pottery dating back to 200 A.D. Today these Paleo-Christian tombs are being excavated to their full extent after adjacent tombs were discovered in 1995, which now indicates a burial area of a larger size which could only belong to a large settlement in the area. In these tombs, one may find very interesting architectural features rarely found in similar tombs on the island.

The size of the area containing the tombs indicate that in the area, there has always been a considerably large community, a settlement marking the area in time. There is the possibility that a Roman road passes through the area which would link the settlement in a both to northwest and the south of the island. The same road may date even prior to Roman settlementand there are indications that the Halfar Dolmen, the towers at tal-Bakkari and tat-Toirrijiet, the catacombs at tax-Xarolla, Hal Millieri and il-Mentna at Mqabba, are all on a perfect line.

On the 15th of March, 1930 a tomb was excavated containing human bones and roman pottery dating to the VII century B.C.. On the 3rd of September, 1935 in a field known as ‘Ta’ Farrat’, near the Xarolla Windmill, a tomb was found dating to the periods of the Carthaginians and Phoenicians, containing as well Roman pottery remains. On the 13th of June, 1930, a Roman tomb was uncovered in Hal Far in the area known as tal-Bakkari, another on the 4th of July, 1956, and another on the 5th of March, 1956, which were all excavated down in the rock and found containing Roman pottery of the third period.

On the 13th of July, 1938, Dun Gwann Farrugia asked the Museums authority to look into a building found in the gardens of the archpriest of Zurrieq. One will find reference to these remains in the book by J. Houel, ‘Voyage Pittoresque de Sicile, Malte et Lipari’. He claims that these remains date back to the Greek period. Unfortunately today only a small tower belonging to a larger building remains, known due to the actual dating of the same tower, as the Punic Tower. This tower is of great interest for the fact that punic remains on the island a scarce. The structure of the tower is made of stone cut in large perfectly square blocks and put together with great precision with the use of round dowels (mincotti ) to hold the same blocks in place.