A while back we mentioned the discovery of assorted Roman remains at the harbour at Marsa ... here's a (somewhat sad) update from the Times:

Finding themselves in a catch-22 situation, the authorities have decided to forge ahead with the construction of a "removable" canal over a significant piece of archaeology unearthed in Marsa.

The Works' Division and the heritage authorities have had to find the middle ground between building a water canal to alleviate flooding problems and exploiting one of the most important historical finds in recent years.

The area consists of a stretch of about 125 metres along the northern half of the water channel near Jetties Wharf, Marsa, which may be dated from the ceramics recovered from site to the Roman and Early Medieval periods.

"It's a significant discovery but sadly there are pragmatic realities we have to face. We opted for a practical solution," Anthony Pace, Superintendent of Cultural Heritage, told The Times.

He said the anti-flooding development in the area had now been redesigned in such a way as not to cause any long-term damage to the Roman structures. Special removable blocks will be used to cover the bottom of the trench.

"I've also been assured that the excavation works will not go as deep as they were originally intended to," Dr Pace said.

Officials from the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage have been closely monitoring earth clearance at the site after workers accidentally unearthed the Roman remains.

Despite the initial fears, Dr Pace admitted that the damage to the site was minimal.

The Marsa area is notorious for suffering the brunt of rainwater carried all the way from Mdina and this often wreaks havoc to businesses and vehicles.

The problem of rerouting the works was compounded by the fact that a 33kV Enemalta cable, which services the south of the island, runs underground.

"It would be ideal to reverse the gross mistakes made in the past but this would require millions of liri. First, we need to clear the buildings from valleys, which once acted as natural reservoirs. Too many places have been ruined because of lack of planning," Dr Pace lamented.

Though works on other parts of the project are moving at a good pace, the discovery has delayed the works in Albert Town, Marsa.

A spokesman for the Infrastructure and Resources Ministry said the works were meant to have been completed by the end of September, before the start of the rainy season.

A Roman town was established in the environs of Marsa that housed people associated with maritime services including merchants, shipwrights, stevedores and rope makers.

When the discovery was made, the Malta Archaeological Society, among others, recommended that professional archaeologists carry out a thorough investigation of the exposed features and possibly of those that may lie buried.