Għar Gerduf is a truly unique Roman burial site in Gozo that has always attracted the attention of scholars interested in our islands’ archaeology. Already mentioned by Gian Franġisk Abela, the site was visited by erudite visitors who often included a description of the place as they did for Ġgantija and the Xagħra (Brochtorff) Circle. Għar Gerduf is the only late Roman and Byzantine catacomb in Gozo described by Professor Mario Buhagiar in his monumental survey of 1986 for which we know the exact whereabouts and that is still visible. A recent reassessment has claimed that Għar Gerduf has characteristics which diverge from contemporary sites in Malta claiming distinctive funerary functions in Gozo.
The importance of Għar Gerduf can be appreciated when one considers that it was the only Phoenician, Carthaginian and Roman site in Gozo included in The Protection of Antiquities Act of 1925. This protection was extended through Government Notice 856 of 2000 which designated Għar Gerduf and a 100 metre buffer zone as a Class A Site of Archaeological Importance, scheduling which is comparable to that given to Mnajdra and Ħaġar Qim. For a number of years, government has attempted to acquire the site for the nation.
In view of the above The Archaeological Society Malta deplores the decision taken by the Planning Authority to allow building in the immediate vicinity of the site. Undoubtedly, this decision, to cite the Planning Authority Mission Statement, does not make ‘(…) Gozo a more pleasant and desirable place to live in’ and goes against the interest of the community who want to live in ‘a balanced and sustainable environment’.
The Archaeological Society Malta supports Wirt Għawdex in its appeal to stop further development with immediate effect and take every possible action to preserve Għar Gerduf and the surrounding area.