Archaeological sites of Southern Sardinia: what is archaeology?
The archaeological sites of South Sardinia are not to be missed stages of a journey to discover the centuries-old history of the ancient island of Ichnusa.
The archaeological sites of Southern Sardinia are a real open-air museum, extraordinary places that guard the secrets and legends of a land that according to David Herbert Richards Lawrence, English poet and writer who describes the island in his famous work Sea and Sardinia, doesn’t look like any other place.
An archaeological site is a place, or a group of places, where traces of human activity of the past are preserved, analyzed and documented through the use of archaeological methodologies.
In the beginning, the sites of interest for archaeology had a monumental character and were therefore visible to the naked eye, but in the post-war period, thanks to the evolution of investigation techniques such as aerotopography and reconnaissance, Until then, it was possible to locate sites that had been invisible. The new discoveries influenced the meaning of the term that is used today to indicate a trace of human age dating back to any era.
In addition, with the emergence of procedural archaeology, the archaeological theory born in 1958 by Gordon Willey and Philip Phillips, also known as New Archaeology, has attempted to adopt new quantitative criteria to define an archaeological site, for example by assessing the density of surface materials.
What exactly is archaeology? Archaeology, a term derived from the Greek ἀρχαιολογία, consisting of the words ἀρχαῖος, meaning “ancient”, and λόγος, meaning “speech” or “study”, is the science that studies the civilizations of the past and their relations with the surrounding environment through collection, documentation and analysis of the material traces reached to the present day, such as architectures and artifacts to which are added biological and human remains.
The archaeology can be subdivided in various disciplines to second of the period object of study (as an example; classical archaeology or industrial archaeology or paletnologia), or based on particular techniques of investigation (as an example: underwater archaeology or experimental archaeology)or to specific problems (e.g.: urban archaeology, theoretical archaeology), or again on the basis of the type of material examined (e.g.: numismatics or epigraphy).
Archaeological sites of South Sardinia: 5 you shouldn’t miss
Sardinia is a unique land, surrounded by one of the most beautiful seas in the world and able to give breathtaking views that have nothing to envy to the most remote tropical paradises. In addition, the island boasts a rich natural, artistic, historical and cultural heritage that includes the beautiful nuraghi, cyclopean giant tombs, fascinating domus de janas, mysterious betili and many other monuments to protect and know.
Among the unmissable places there are also the five archaeological sites of South Sardinia to visit at least once in a lifetime. Let’s find out which are the five most beautiful not to be missed:
- Nora and the archaeological park of Pula: Nora is located a few dozen kilometers southwest of Cagliari and was the first Phoenician city in Sardinia and one of the most important ports of the island. The first civilization to inhabit the territory was the nuragic one as evidenced by some ruins, including the nuragic well at the “Terme a mare”, and the artifacts dating back to the Bronze Age, in addition to some nuraghi discovered in the surrounding area. Among the ancient remains there is also a necropolis with tombs dating back to the late seventh century B.C. and the early sixth century B.C. while the nuragic-phoenician period, the eighth century B.C., is the stele of Nora, a block of sandstone, 105 cm high and 57 cm wide, with an inscription in the Phoenician alphabet where the name of Sardinia appears for the first time with the word Shrdn. The tophet, a Phoenician-Punic sanctuary, the remains of the temple dedicated to the goddess Tanit and some artisan plants in the area closest to the sea, have survived the passage of time. The forum, theatre and amphitheatre, houses and thermal baths date back to the Roman period;
- Su Nuraxi Archaeological Area of Barumini: Su Nuraxi is one of the most important archaeological sites in Sardinia and was brought to light in the fifties during the excavations conducted by the archaeologist baruminense Giovanni Lilliu, considered the greatest expert of the ancient nuragic civilization. The site has been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1997 and today the protection and enhancement of the site, along with other valuable historical assets, are entrusted to the Barumini Cultural System Foundation. The archaeological complex has a historical stratification that goes from the sixteenth century B.C. to the seventh century A.D. and covers a time span of over two thousand years. The human settlement develops around a four-lobed nuraghe, built mainly of basalt, a hard volcanic stone coming from the nearby plateau of the Giara, and consists of a bastion of four corner towers plus a central one. During the Middle Bronze Age (1500-1350 BC) the main tower was built, also called mastio, a central truncated tower surrounded by a bastion consisting of four two-storey towers crowned by shelves that supported balconies. The Bronze Age (1300-1000 BC) saw the construction of four more towers, 14 meters high, oriented according to the cardinal points and joined together by a ring of walls with an upper gallery that did not survive the time. From the four-lobed bastion there was access to a courtyard, equipped with a well, which served to connect the rooms of the various towers consisting of two superimposed rooms with a circular plan and tholos vault. In the same period, the first houses of the village and three towers of the antemural were built, that is the defensive walls, which in the Bronze Final was renewed and enlarged. In addition, the Bronze Final also dates the houses with a circular plan, covered with wooden roofs and conical shape, of which the most important is the “hut 80” or “hut of assemblies” or “hut of meetings”. At the end of the Nuragic civilization, with the Iron Age (X-VIII sec. a.c.), the settlement fabric grew and water-channeling and sewerage systems were introduced. Then Su Nuraxi was almost totally destroyed and on the remains was built around the seventh century B.C. a new town;4. Necropolis of Montessu: the pre-Nuragic archaeological site is located on the southern sides of the hill of Sa Pranedda, a few km north from the town of Villaperuccio. The Necropolis of Montessu, considered one of the largest and most important of the island, has about forty domus de janas, or prehistoric tombs carved into the rock typical of pre-Nuragic Sardinia. The funeral site was used for about a millennium during which the ancient cultures of Ozieri, Abealzu-Filigosa, Monte Claro, the bell-shaped vase and Bonnanaro alternated. The domus de janas have a very varied plan and many different sizes: one of the most important is the “tomb of the spirals”, decorated inside with wolf teeth in the anticella, a protome taurina in the entrance wall, numerous spirals symbolizing the eyes or breasts of the mother goddess, chandelier motifs and finally the false door at the bottom to indicate the passage to the afterlife. Another tomb, called “of the horns”, belongs to the vertical projection type and has, carved on the vault and on the step at the entrance, numerous horns of various shapes, alluding to the bull god. It should be remembered that next to the necropolis you can see gigantic aniconic menhirs including “Luxia Arrabiosa” monolith in Su Terrazzu, about 5 m high and mutilated by lightning at the top;
- Matzanni archaeological area: the complex of sacred buildings of the Nuragic and Punic ages is located in the municipality of Vallermosa, about 700 meters above sea level, on the southern slope of Mount Linas, and consists of three sacred nuragic wells and circular huts dating from the late Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Of the three wells, the first consists of an atrium, a descending staircase and an underground chamber with tholos cover, while the second consists of a vestibule and a descending staircase completely underground to which is added a tholos room, without coverage. Of the third well, similar to the famous Su Tempiesu of Orune and from the width that passes from two meters and sixty outwards, to two meters and twenty near the staircase of access to the room, the vestibule is visible, paved with shale slabs. In addition, in the Punic era, near the sacred area of Protosarda, was built the temple of Genna Cantoni, now part of the municipality of Iglesias, built with limestone blocks and 7 x 12 meters. The site of Matzanni has returned a cup of Etruscan production, spear heads, remains of ceramics, a small bronze called Barbetta because of the particular hairstyle and a coin of Antonino Pio, which testify the attendance also in Roman times;
- Sulky: considered the oldest city in Sardinia and also called Sulci, Sulci or Sulcis, was a pre-Nuragic and nuragic settlement, a Phoenician and then Punic and Roman city, capital of the Solcitani, and today an archaeological site among the most important of the island. Sulky stood at the site of today’s Sant’Antioco, on the northern side of the homonymous island of the Sulcitane archipelago, and was inhabited since the third millennium BC: the oldest settlements in the area, in fact, go back to the Ozieri culture and witness the inhabited and domus de jana of Is Pruinis. To what archaeologists define the “first great Sardinian culture” followed the nuragic populations of the Bronze Age that, according to scholars, related peacefully with the first Levantine merchants: This is demonstrated by the findings made during the excavation campaigns that tell the coexistence between Phoenicians and Nuragici. The birth of the city of Sulky would date back to 770 BC, however the discovery of ceramics “bichrome Ware”, of Phoenician production of the East, suggest that the foundation of the city could have taken place around the ninth century B.C. The first information about the ancient Phoenician town come from an area called Cronicario which in 1983 was submitted to a thorough study by Paolo Bernardini and Carlo Tronchetti, leaders of the Archaeological Superintendence for the provinces of Cagliari and Oristano, which started the exploration of the place. On that occasion were found important remains of the ancient city, first Phoenician, then Punic and then Roman. In addition to the walls, stone and clay bricks, were found numerous objects, especially in terracotta, which allowed to know better the commercial relations that linked ancient Sulcis to Lebanon, the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa and Etruria.
- The tofet dates back to the Phoenician-Punic period, while important cultural and urban changes were carried out during the rule of Carthage. The Carthaginian rule was followed by the Roman occupation of Sardinia and in this period, according to the philosopher, historian and geographer Strabo, Sulci was considered the most important city of the island along with Cagliari. It should also be remembered that on the Punic necropolis, one of the most important in the Mediterranean with a very large number of tombs (about 1500) and whose chronology goes from the early years of the V to the end of the III century B.C. arose the Roman one and, in the Christian age, a cemetery of catacombs. The numerous and important Phoenician and Punic finds found in the excavations of the tofet, the necropolis and the town, as well as objects of the Roman age are kept in the Municipal Archaeological Museum “Ferruccio Barreca” open to the public every day from 9:00 to 19:00.
Do you want to discover the secrets of the archaeological sites of South Sardinia and live a holiday of charm and elegance? Book a stay at Palazzo Doglio in Cagliari