This week the Guardia Civil's Nature Protection Service (Seprona) is looking into any possible damage done to the Vega del Mar paleochristian basilica site in Marbella, after complaints from residents in the area.
According to the complainants, the damage was caused by works vehicles, which are now known to have been sent by the council to clear the land in order to create a new picnic area. Residents claim that one of the trucks became stuck in the mud and the destruction occurred as a second truck tried to remove it.
Although only the basilica is officially classified as an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC), the whole of its surrounding land is fenced off and is under archaeological protection as it is known to contain Roman relics. Some of these remains, including bones, metal nails and ceramics, surfaced as a result of the disruption to the land last week.
On Monday, representatives from the Nature Protection Service visited the forest of eucalyptus trees outside the basilica where the majority of the damage is said to have been done.
Marbella's head of Culture, Gema Midón has since defended the council's decision to send the works vehicles to the site, claiming that "no irreparable damage has been done," and the installation of wooden benches for the new picnic area is "compatible with the archaeological protection of the area." She also stated that the objects which surfaced are not particularly valuable as they are "decontextualised."
However she did confirm that in order to prevent further damage, from now on all work at the site will be done manually.