A Roman marble base in Valletta (Malta) featuring a personifi cation of Sicilia
In: Sicilia Archeologica: 113, 2022
A badly damaged Roman marble base now in Valletta, Malta, was fi rst published in 1647 and then in 1787, but has been neglected since. Th is first full study of it argues for its authenticity, and contextualizes the relief sculpture that decorates three of its sides. Th e front carries a depiction of Sicilia, the personification of the Roman province of Sicily to which the Maltese Islands belonged. Identical side panels each show a man with what is interpreted as a turtle balanced on a knee. It is suggested that turtles, now scarce in the Mediterranean, were once plen tiful in the waters off both Malta and Sicily. In a secondary period, perhaps in the late eighteenth century, the base was badly mutilated during its conversion for use as a fountain. Whether it ever functioned as such is uncertain.