Sardinia is so well-known for its stunning beaches, nightlife, and famous visitors to the island. Most people aren’t even aware of what its wild nature has to offer, including the megalithic constructions, also known as nuraghi, that are found all over the island. There are almost 7000 nuraghi on the island, 200 of which have been excavated. Their era of construction is roughly dated from 2300 to 500 BC. Not very much is known of the ancient Nuragic civilization, except that it was a people of shepherds and farmers grouped into small communities who lived in Sardinia for 8 centuries. Although they are similar to other ancient constructions, in numbers Sardinia has no competitors. The nuraghi of Sardinia could, as a whole, be seen as one of the world’s greatest unknown treasures.
As a child I spent many summers in Sardinia, and I have fond memories the Nuraghi. This past Sunday we decided to be tourists in our own town, taking the kids out and about, touring the Nuraghi of northern Sardinia. Our first stop was Arzachena’s train station turned local museum, which just happens to be minutes from our home. Our knowledgable guide explained how the ancient civilization lived day to day; how they dressed and prepared food, how they prepared paint to draw the peculiar shapes and symbolic images on the stone walls, and also how they died. Corpses were buried in the fetal position, as a symbol of rebirth, and buried with personal belongings to take with them to the other side.
We then took a short car ride to the first, and also most well-known site; ‘Tomba dei Giganti’, or Giant’s Grave. The Nuragic civilization built these megalithic graves as collective burial sites for the townspeople. Although the name invokes images of the burial of giant human beings, the tombs actually have nothing to do with the burial of giants at all. The Nuragic civilization constructed two distinct types of tombs. The “slab type” was constructed from giant stone slabs which were placed upright, and buried into the ground. The slabs were placed side by side in a long row. They are uniform in height except for the center slab, which rises up to 4 meters in height and has a doorway carved into its center.
Perfect location for an impromptu yoga pose photoshoot!
The second Nuragic site that we visited was La Prisgiona, located in Capichera, an area famous for its vineyards. This Nuraghe, which extends over five hectares, consists of a huge dolmen, or megalithic tomb in the center of the village, which is composed of about 100 huts, with many more still unearthed. Another main feature of the courtyard is a 7 meter deep well that still works!