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More remains of Punic-Roman fortress found at Mdina

Archaeological remains of the Punic-Roman fortress of Melite have been discovered during works on the Mdina bastions by the Resources Ministry.

The discovery was the second since interventions on Mdina's fortifications started some months ago under the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.

The recently unearthed structures constitute a three-coursed alignment of large rusticated ashlar blocks dating from around the Punic-Roman period.

The trial excavations carried out at the foot of Magazine Curtain on the west side of Mdina (facing Mtarfa) revealed considerable stretches of the lower foundation levels of ancient rampart walls. The latter were retained in situ by the Order's builders and used as a footing for the early-eighteenth-century fortifications, when Magazine Curtain was constructed under the direction of the Order's resident engineer, the Frenchman Charles Francois de Mondion.

The ministry said that in most cases, when such ancient masonry blocks were encountered in the laying out of new foundations, the likelihood was that the ancient blocks would be broken down and re-utilised in the new constructions, whether of later medieval or Hospitaller works of fortification.

"What is exceptional in this new find is that an original stretch of the ancient wall typology has been found in situ, intact in its form of construction and thereby giving us a clear idea on the ancient methods employed."

The restoration and consolidation at Mdina's bastions is one of the four major projects being implemented by the Maltese government and co-financed by the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund. The other sites include Valletta's bastioned land front fortifications, the Vittoriosa enceinte, and the Cittadella in Gozo. The works are estimated to cost a total of 36 million euro and will cover fortifications over a combined perimeter length of around six km of fortifications.

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