What lies beneath

Twenty-four bronze statues were unearthed from Etruscan baths built in the third century BC. The discovery was made during works on an excavation project at San Casciano dei Bagni in Tuscany. It occurred during dedicated archaeological works, and the discovery was all over the Italian media, described as the most significant finding since the Bronzes of Riace.

Not to be outdone, the island steeped in cultural heritage carried similar headline news of its own. Bones and pottery that could date to almost 6,000 BC had been discovered in the limits of taċ-Ċawla (Victoria, Gozo). Don’t bother looking for this particular archaeological project. Dutch archaeologists found these artefacts in abandoned heaps next to a construction site.

It could not have been any other way, could it? Needless to say, the authorities charged with preserving our historical heritage seem to be battling windmills at this point.

The danger here, of course, is that the progressive instincts of modern Maltese man are being seriously threatened by the remains of his great ancestors.  The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage may require all forms of evaluations under laws designed to preserve this heritage, but the Planning Authority and its procedures are not designed to take note of any obstacle to the beast of progress.

This week, university Students were bemoaning their plight at being seen as little more than business products. During a protest prompted by a sudden rise in car park prices, student leaders pointed out that theirs was not simply a grievance related to the pocket but a much broader complaint that the university and its grounds were becoming anything but educational.

Investment in our future generations has been wrongly misinterpreted as being an opportunity to milk the tiny heifers of their stipend.

Students would not be prompted to complain about car park prices had we concentrated on an efficient transport system. It is useless to claim that it is free if it does not provide the required service. The same goes for the games being played on fast ferry services with the abject failure of the government to provide an essential service of economic interest.

Should we be surprised by these misplaced priorities? Hardly. The populist policies of this government are anything but citizen-friendly and definitely not future-proof.

This is a government that locks horns with civil society to prevent the institutions from working properly. It is a government that sells the idea of progress over the dead bodies of workers and pedestrians, victims of the greedy race to construction oblivion.

Whether historical, natural or human, our heritage is slowly being eroded. The deckchairs are still lined up on the edge of the Blue Lagoon. Civil society still has a long way to go before restoring the system to proper operability.

Meanwhile, we will have to make do with incredible discoveries on heaps of construction waste.


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