University of Malta

Zejtun Roman Villa Project
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Institution: Department of Classics and Archaeology, University of Malta

Collaborating partners:
Carlo Diacono Girls’ Junior Lyceum, Żejtun; Ghent University, Belgium; Din L-Art Ħelwa

Directors: Prof. Anthony Bonanno and Prof. Nicholas Vella (University of Malta)

Main sponsor:
University of Malta; additional sponsors: Din L-Art Ħelwa, Carlo Diacono Girls Lyceum, Ghent University, and Simonds Farsons Cisk plc.

  • Pottery: Dr Babette Bechtold (independent researcher), Dr Claudia Sagona (University of Melbourne, Australia) and Dr Maxine Anastasi (University of Malta)
  • GPR Survey: Lieven Verdonck (Ghent University)
In 1961, whilst work was underway for the construction of the new village school in Żejtun, ancient remains were noted. Archaeological excavations were taken up in 1964 revealing a large cistern and some water channels, together with an area paved in stone slabs. Eight years later, the start of an annual excavation project, led by the Museums’ Department, got underway uncovering in the course of short excavation campaigns what was identified as a farmstead of Roman date. Various parts of the stone apparatus used in Roman times for the production of olive oil were found. These included the large stone block used as the counterweight for the wooden beam of the press and a stone vat for the settling of the processed olive oil. These remains constitute the industrial zone of the farmstead.

To the south a series of rooms were uncovered, all containing lozenge-shaped terracotta tiles. Some of the walls are plastered and were decorated in red paint. A second cistern was discovered further south, as well as a rock-cut silo-pit containing Bronze Age pottery. Short excavation campaigns were conducted until 1976 uncovering what is now identified as a typical Roman rustic villa.

In 2006 excavation was resumed by the University of Malta. Four trenches were opened up incorporating parts of the 1972-76 excavation limit (Areas A and B), as well as previously unexcavated zones (Areas C and D). The primary aim of the project is to assess, record and publish the architectural remains and cultural material revealed in past excavations and other data arising from limited excavations on the site. An attempt will be made to recover data with which to attempt a reconstruction of the economic and environmental history of the site and its environs.

BONANNO, A. 1987. Villa qadima fiż-Żejtun. Skola sekondarja tal-bniet, Żejtun: magażin annwali 1: 34

FRENDO, A.J. 1999. A new Punic inscription from Żejtun (Malta) and the goddess Anat-Astarte. Palestine Exploration Quarterly 131: 24-35.

ABELA, R. (ed.) 2012. The Żejtun Roman Villa: Research, Conservation, Management. Malta: Wirt iż-Żejtun. This volume contains a number of contributions by staff members and former students of the Department.

VELLA, N. C., BONANNO, A., ANASTASI, M., BECHTOLD, B., FARRUGIA, R., FENECH, K., MIZZI, D., VERDONCK, L. and ZAMMIT, A. in press. A View from the Countryside: the Nature of the Late Punic and Early Roman Activity at the Żejtun Villa Site, Malta. Revista di Studi Fenici.


Last Updated: 2 October 2017

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