Revisiting the Mellieħa Bay Wreck: A report on two seasons of survey and excavation (2013-2014)

By: Timmy Gambin, Stephanie Said, Maja Sausmekat, Pashala Yates

This report focuses on the Mellieħa Bay wreck, a third-century Roman shipwreck first investigated by Honor Frost in the late 1960s. In 2013 and 2014 field schools organised by the University of Malta with the support of the Honor Frost Foundation sought to uncover what remained of the wreck, including any material culture still present. It also sought to investigate the site formation processes. A magnetometer survey revealed the location of a number of target anomalies. It could be determined that the wreck area is highly dynamic, with the scattered nature of the finds reflecting a high-energy zone, which periodically exposed the objects on the seabed. Between 2013 and 2014 it was noted that material remains were re-deposited in the wreck area over the winter months. The growth of Poseidonia oceanica eventually stabilised the site, and the location of recovered finds at the bottom of Poseidonia mattes points towards the high potential of material evidence still located within or under the mattes, as revealed in the magnetometer survey. The recovered material culture points towards a culturally homogenous site with all objects dating to the third century AD.

Malta Archaeological Review 2021, issue 12,
Received: 3 June 2020 | Published online: 25 January 2021