Nuragic civilization in Sardinia: five important monuments

Nuragic civilization in Sardinia: five important monuments

The Nuragics were an endemic civilization of Sardinia, which did not inhabit any other part of the world. The beginning of the Nuragic era is estimated at the Bronze Age, around 1800 BCE, whereas the end corresponds to the arrival of the Romans in 238 BCE. Scientists believe that the Nuragics did not come to Sardinia from the outside, but they were the original inhabitants of the territory. Since the civilization did not leave any written testimony, all knowledge about them comes from archaeological remains, like buildings, everyday items and artworks.

The name Nuragics derives from the most characteristic architectural structure of the epoch, the nuraghe. The nuraghes are megalithic fortresses built of stone blocks without any cement binders, which very often constituted centers of ancient villages. However, the exact function of the constructions is still not completely certain; some experts believe, that the monuments had a defensive role, other that they had a religious function.

Other relevant structures of the Nuragic period are the giants’ tombs (Tombe di Giganti), ancient collective graves. The name of the sites, used nowadays also by the archeologists, derives from the popular tradition. It refers to the huge dimensions of the graves, big enough to host a body of a giant. Nuragic funerary complexes consisted of a burial chamber, long up to 30 meters and high up to 3 meters, with a mound on top. A common element was also an obelisk with religious symbols, located near the entrance. Archeologists discovered numerous everyday items left by this ancient civilization, which nowadays can be admired in Sardinian museums. A particularly interesting example of the Nuragic artworks are the so called bronzetti, small statues which depict everyday life scenes.

Nowadays, there are roughly seven thousand nuraghes and eight hundred giants’ graves on the island. Some of the most interesting are:

1. Su Nuraxi in Barumini

The Nuragic complex of Barumini is one of the most important examples of the Nuragic architecture on the island. In 1997, the archaeological site was included on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Su Nuraxi was built around the 17th century BCE and is composed of the ruins of the central tower, originally around 18 meters high, surrounded by four lateral towers, connected with the wall. Around the fortification there was a village, which counted roughly 200 stone huts with wooden roofs.

2. Santu Antine in Torralba

Known also as “the house of the king”, the complex Santu Antine is the second biggest nuraghe in Sardinia. The main part of structure was erected around XIX-XVIII BCE. The complex is composed of a 17-meter-high basalt tower, which originally had three floors and three smaller towers on its sites. The main structure was closed by a high wall, behind which there was a village.

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3. Nuraghe Arrubiu in Orroli

Red nuraghe, as called by Sardinians due to the red shade of basalt blocks used for its construction, is a megalithic complex located in the South of the Island. The main element of the structure is a 15-meter-high tower, originally about 30 meters high. The tower is surrounded by defence walls and additional towers, in total 21. The total area of the nuraghe is about five thousand square meters, which make of it one of the largest nuraghe structures in Sardinia.

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4. Tomba dei Giganti in Coddu Vecchiu

The Giants Grave of Coddu Vecchiu is one of the best preserved funerary monuments of the Nuragic time. The structure located in the North of the island, near Arzachena, was built in granite between 1800 and 1600 BC. It consists of a central stele portal, high about 4 meters, extended by stone megaliths which create a semicircle and a 10-meter-long grave gallery.

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5. Nuragic village of Tiscali

The village of Tiscali is located inside a doline of mount Tiscali, in the province of Nuoro. The complex differs from the other structures of that time and most probably it was built in the pre-nuragic era. Some scientists believe that the structure was inhabited until the Middle Ages. The village is composed of two parts; the first one is comprised of around forty circular dwellings, and the second one of thirty rectangular houses. The inhabitants of the doline elaborated also a special water gathering system which allowed them to stay inside the cavity for a long time.

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