||In the beginning of December 1999, the Grupp
Arkeologiku Malti with the valuable assistance of the Qrendi Boy scouts
started the clearing of a Roman catacomb in the premises of the Wignacourt
Museum at Rabat.
The catacomb had its access near the stairs leading to a World War II shelter. On clearing the accumulated rubble, two saddle baldacchino tombs, a window tomb and a loculus were found. An exedra with a funerary triclinium was also identified.
|The original entrance of the catacomb led into one side
of a rectangular space. The sides containing the opening of the baldacchino
tombs and the funerary triclinium border the remaining sides of this space.
The illumination of this area was provided by lamps placed
in six lampholes above the exedra.
|It appears that the catacomb was looted in antiquity.
At a later date the catacomb received a soil infill from the original access.
The catacomb was again discovered during excavation of
the nearby shelter and was used to contain the rubble produced during the
digging. Fortunately enough the tombs were preserved.
|Evidence of extensive plastering, finishing and size
indicate that the baldacchino to the left of the entrance was the most
important tomb in the complex.
No inscriptions were noted in the catacomb.
|The contents of both Baldacchino tombs were disturbed
but still contain human bones. No pottery was observed inside the chambers.
Work on the catacombs continues under the direction of the Museum authorities who are working on the preservation and a more complete excavation of the complex
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(Page brought up by courtesy of Rev. Fr. John Azzopardi)