The TAP contractor immediately suspended works when the archaeological finds were observed, and the Archaeological Service Agency (ASA) was notified. The ASA representatives undertook an assessment of this chance find, then the National Council of Archaeology initiated a rescue excavation, currently undertaken by a team of professional archaeologists.
The area where the archaeological discovery was made is closed off and TAP construction works in this area are expected to resume within one month, once the relevant institutions conclude their report. In the meantime, TAP's construction activities along the pipeline route in Albania (215km) continue to progress in line with the project schedule.
TAP Senior Cultural Heritage Advisor Neil Fairburn said: “The rescue, conservation and protection of cultural heritage along the pipeline route is critical to TAP’s construction activities. We have carried numerous pre-construction surveys and studies, and put in place a sound approach to ensure we minimise any cultural heritage, environmental and social impact.”
“We are now walking the talk. Our teams continue to monitor and recover all cultural heritage elements across our route, in line with our cultural heritage management plan, EU legislation and industry best practice,” Fairburn added.
More than 30 cultural heritage experts and archaeologists monitor TAP’s ground-breaking construction work across the pipeline route in Albania and throughout all construction stages, to ensure that any archaeological remains are identified and rescued. In addition, TAP contractors and employees have been trained with regards to the procedures that must be followed in case of discovering an archaeological chance find.
Any artefacts and archaeological finds are delivered to the competent Albanian authorities, who ensure the country’s rich cultural heritage is displayed to the public. In July 2016, TAP discovered a column capital dating back from the 6th century AD.