The known unknown: identification, provenancing, and relocation of pieces of decorative architecture from Roman public buildings and other private structures in Malta

By:  David Cardona

In archaeology a narrative or story is usually reconstructed on the basis of a meticulous study of material. In normal circumstances, the physical material constitutes the known, while the actual story remains the unknown until the material is deciphered and put in context. When it comes to certain aspects of Roman architecture in Malta, and especially the architecture of public buildings, the story is somewhat reversed. This is because we know of the presence of public buildings but the actual physical evidence of such structures has for long remained unknown. This study seeks to provide a story, one that gives a provenance to some of the most important architectural elements found in various local collections, thereby bringing to the attention of researchers a corpus of data that has hitherto been little known.