The Nuragic Civilization

During the Bronze Age, that was the age of the heroes of the ancient mediterranean civilizations, a people rooted in Sardinia since several millennia built thousands of cyclopean stone monuments, the nuraghi. About four centuries (1600-1200 BC) of building frenzy, demographic increase, land colonization and agricultural development, created a highly deforested and exploited landscape, dotted with small and large nuraghi.

These multipurpose buildings functioned as coordinating centres, mainly for concentration and redistribution of products, and formed a thick network structured in several districts with different hierarchical levels. Actually the nuraghi kept an important role in the land exploitation till medieval and modern times.

The archaic nuraghi are squat and low, at first without rooms but provided with corridors and niches; afterwards embryonic elliptical or rectangular rooms developed. An example is the elliptical room at ground floor of nuraghe Òrgono at Ghilarza (about 7 km from nuraghe Losa on S.S. 131 DCN towards Nuoro, but easily reachable from the old road Ghilarza - Sèdilo).  Read more...

The tholos or false dome constituted by stone rings smaller and smaller from the base to the top, was the great invention of the nuragic architects, which gave the classical nuraghi their characteristic shape of towers on round base. This clever simplification allowed both the mass construction of single towers and the development of complex multitowered monuments with several rooms at ground level and one or two superposed floors.

The proliferation of the nuraghi on the land was followed by the construction of the settlements and collective tombs, which are called “tombs of the giants” because their megalithic galleries recall the grave of a gigantic individual. Besides the large nuraghe Losa, in the territory of Abbasanta one can easily visit the simple nuraghe Zuras (about 5 km on the road to Santulussurgiu) and the “tomb of the giant” of Su Pranu (about 3.5 km from nuraghe Zuras, next to the communal road of Bonorchis).

During the last phase of the Bronze Age (about 1200-930 BC) nuraghi and “tombs of the giants” were no longer built; moreover nuragic Sardinia experienced a period of crisis and transformation, which was not due to invasions or natural disasters but to the fact that the proliferation system of the nuraghi was no longer bearable because of economic and social reasons.

In that period and mainly during the Early Iron Age (about 930-730 BC), around the old nuraghi or far from them the settlements became much larger. New collective and individual burial types developed. Most of all flourished the water cult, which had begun from wells and springs already existing and gave origin to organized sanctuaries.

One of the best known is the settlement and sanctuary of Santa Cristina in Paulilàtino (about 9 km from nuraghe Losa on the S.S. 131 towards Oristano). In the wellrefined temples the emerging social élites displayed their wealth and power. There were lots of votive offerings, above all bronze statuettes representing chiefs, warriors, men and women of high and low rank, animals, ritual objects, miniatures of boats and finally models of the old nuraghi that had become identity symbols.

Models of nuraghi and statues of warriors, archers and “boxers” crowded the cemetery of Mont’e Prama in the Sinis region near Cabras. Despite the apparent social and cultural compactness, during these periods became more evident the structural limits of the rural system, that was too much fragmented and unable to compete with the urban systems that were expanding all around the Mediterranean. So the nuragic civilization dissolved into a new historical cycle. Author of the texts: Dott. Alessandro Usai


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