Xarolla Catacombs - Zurrieq 

Xarolla Catacombs

Tombs have been documented here in the last century but it was only in 1994 that the Xarolla Complex of Tombs came to light.

Work to create a heritage park around the Xarolla Windmill revealed a number of decorated tombs that had been mutilated by quarrying activity.  After this discovery excavations were extended westwards to reveal a larger tomb complex, in front and under the windmill. It was also discovered that the laying of the Zurrieq drainage system and the windmill itself had in the past inflicted extensive damage to the catacombs.

In the Xarolla complex, the Window tomb is the most common type of tomb, but examples of loculi are also present.  The Baldacchino, saddle-shaped tomb and floor tombs are absent and no remains of a funerary triclinium (better known as the agape table ) has been found on the site. Most of the Tombs in the Xarolla complex probably date back to the Late Roman or Byzantine period of the islands.

The most notable feature remaining in the complex, is a column decorating the entrance of a window tomb. Two leaf-shaped motifs arranged in a V-shaped fashion adorn the capital of this column, resting on a fluted base and a spirally fluted column.  Remains in the surrounding area indicate that probably at least two other similar columns decorated the other window tombs in the immediate vicinity.

Mutilation of the catacomb throughout the last century provides a unique opportunity to examine the interior of burial chamber. Details of the head-rests, unguentaria and burial niches can be studied in the remains of various chambers.

The size of the tomb complex, presence of window tombs together with the above-mentioned decorative elements exhibit a high degree of wealth in the local community to which the complex pertained. 

Detail of a column decorating a window tomb


Contact author by E-Mail