Archaeological resources

The great environmental diversity that surrounds the Giara has favored human settlement since the Neolithic period. There is no town in this part of the Marmilla that does not preserve archaeological sites of great importance. The same plateau that dominates this landscape preserves important remnants from continuous human presence since ancient times. The obsidian artifacts and burial caves, called Domus de Janas, tell the story of the lives of those who lived there. The Scala Pitzosa (Tuili), Sa ucca ’e su paùi (Gesturi) and Sa Domu' e S'Orcu (Setzu), are some of the burial caves worth mentioning.

The period that has left more traces in this territory is the Nuragic, in which the relationship between man and land became closer, making the economic and strategic importance of this area palpable. The structure of the Giara, with its vast plateau, steep slopes, limited number of access points, and 360° panoramic view, offered a response to the defensive needs of the small Sardinian communities and gave them the land and pastures that they needed to survive. Therefore, a system of simple and complex nuraghes was developed along the shore and on the slopes of the plateau in order to control the different scalas, or paths, to the Giara.

In the south-eastern part of the plateau, you can see the end of the Bruncu Maduli complex, the most impressive example of proto-nuraghe on the island, as well as a large settlement of huts placed around shared courtyards.

It would be necessary to perform deeper archaeological excavations in order to give more validity to the hypothesis about the occupation of the Giara.  The current information is the result of a series of superficial surveys and stratigraphic excavations, which allowed the experts to only have a provisional description of the nuraghes that have been discovered so far.

At the edge of the plateau, there are mainly single tower nuraghes, which are sometimes protected by a wall, such as the nuraghes of Tramatza and Nieddu in Gonnosnò, Mummuzzu in Assolo, Su Corrazzu and Pranu d'Omus in Genoni. On the other hand, the nuraghes that emerge on the slopes show quite complex structures consisting of two or more towers, such as the nuraghe of Biriu in Genoni. In some cases, you can see the ruins of circular huts around a nuraghe, which were part of both important and unimportant human settlements. Moreover, some monuments are remnants from human presence in subsequent periods, such as the nuraghe of Tutturuddu in Tuili and the nuraghe of Santa Lucia in Assolo. The sites dating back to the Nuragic period are not only scattered across the top of the plateau, but also in the hills at the foot of the Giara.

The temples and sacred wells of Coni (Nuragus) and San Salvador (Gonnosnò) are other sites that can be visited. There is also a group of giants’ tombs called Is Lapideddas in Gonnosnò.

 The Punic and Roman occupation is confirmed by the presence of some settlements, such as Nuridda and Santa Luisa in Tuili, and by the archaeological sites of Bruncu Suergiu and Pranu d'omus in Genoni. Ruins from smaller settlements, which date back to Roman times, have also been found along the slopes and at the foot of the plateau.

The sites listed here are just some of the many monuments that can tell the story of the people who lived in this area in ancient times. It is, on the whole, a rich heritage that must be preserved by disseminating this information to the public. This is precisely why important museums have emerged in throughout this region in recent decades. These structures guard the legacy of past civilizations and show new generations the significance of each artifact and the importance of knowing about our past.

Nuraghe Su Corrazzu is located about 50 meters from the edge of a ridge that extends toward Genoni, which is on the northern edge of the plateau of the Giara. You can see its simple plan, which features a central tower protected by a high wall.

NuragheTutturuddu is located at the first promontory after Nuraghe Nuridda. This structure looks over a path that goes down to the village of Tuili. Its name comes from the Sardinian word tutturu (rolling pin), which refers to the shape of the remains of the ancient structure.

This nuraghe has a complex floor plan that is composed of concentric circles. It is difficult to see because of the numerous landslides and dense vegetation covering the ruins. In fact, it has not yet been possible to determine whether the structure has three or four lobes. The room of the central tower, which reaches a height of six meters, is almost entirely intact. The walls of this tower almost form a square, and they are made of stones that were set in horizontal rows of square blocks.

 

Nuraghe Giuerreddu is located on the top of Monte Giuerri in the northwest of Assolo, and it is one of the most remarkable and impressive nuraghes in the region.

It is partly preserved and consists of two towers. The secondary tower is connected to the main one by a powerful buttress which encloses an irregular, elliptical courtyard. The towers are made of large basalt blocks. The borders of the structure are more irregular in the eastern part of the buttress, from which you can see a sharp angle at its intersection with the main tower.

The main tower, which is 10.5 meters wide, has a cell at its bottom, whose diameter is about 4.5 meters. The secondary tower, which is 9 meters wide, used to be the only entrance to the building. This system was conceived with the aim of making it difficult to access the main tower. This fact highlights the strategic importance of the building, which was placed in a dominant position and, therefore, was exposed to enemy attacks. Through the intentional holes in the masonry, it was possible to watch over both the valley of the Cabras River and the mountainous region that extends around the nuraghe.As a result, access to the plateau, from both the north and the west, was under constant surveillance. 

At 20 meters from the edge of the Giara, Nuraghe Mammuzzola is located within the municipality of Assolo. After so many years, its structure is 11.4 meters wide and 4 meters high, but it used to be much higher. The outer wall features 5 rows of basalt blocks, some of which were modified to form a compact and solid facing. The interior of the cell shows 3 niches and an access corridor oriented to the south-east. There are still some traces of two buttresses, some piles of cut stones around the nuraghe, and several remains of huts, which presumably date back to prehistoric times. Nearby, remnants of Nuragic crockery and some scraps from the processing of obsidian have also been discovered.

 

This nuraghe was named after the area where it is located on the south-eastern slopes of the Giara. Although Nuraghe Mata Eguas was quoted by Taramelli (1868-1939) in his study of prehistoric monuments in the Giara, a census conducted in the 1980s recorded no trace of this structure.

The Nuraghe Nieddu  is located within the municipality of Gonnosnò, near the Scala Pomposa, which is a natural path leading to the Giara. It is on a basaltic outcrop protruding about 30 meters out from the slope of the plateau. Due to its location, it represented a powerful defense system during the Nuragic period.

The tower of the nuraghe, which has a diameter of 11 meters, has sloping walls, with a polyhedral structure, that are made of carefully arranged irregular basaltic blocks. Unlike the cell, a stretch of the buttress, built with enormous rocks, is still in good condition. It connects to the side of the nuraghe that faces the Giara. There is a small door near the tower that crosses the buttress. It is only 1.8 meters wide and 1.3 meters high and is crowned by a massive architrave.

 

 

On the border between the municipalities of Sini and Genoni, you can visit Nuraghe Perdosu, whose remains occupy the west end of the valley of the Mulinu River.

The building is an example of a combined nuraghe, consisting of two towers that are joined by a coated wall, which blends with the walls of the two main buildings. The western part of the nuraghe was placed on a wall of rocks, a detail that highlights the military function of the building.

Where the two buildings meet, you can see the remains of a gateway that faces a square located among the nuraghe, the edge of the plateau, and the cliffs. Since no trace of the front door remains, some experts argue that access to the internal cells was through a door placed between the two towers in the upper square. In this upper square, several fragments of pottery and obsidian, such as vases of various sizes made of thick clay, with a smooth, blackened surface, have been found.

 

The Nuraghe Pranu d'Omus is located near Scala Cannas, which is a natural path to the Giara, in the rural area of Genoni. It was erected on a small edge of the plateau, a few meters from the descent.

The central cone, whose top emerges from the ruins of the structure, has a polygonal foundation made of large stones that were placed in an unsystematic manner. At the internal part of the top, smaller blocks were arranged better.

Only two thirds of the underground cell are preserved. Other remnants include the gateway, the stairway leading to the upper floor, and a buttress enclosing an elliptical courtyard in front of the nuraghe. The wall structure, which is in a rather good state of preservation, is made of large rocks that were stacked irregularly. From the courtyard, you can see two holes that were used for the defense of the entrance door.

Nuraghe San Lussorio, located in the northwestern slopes of the Giara, is part of a larger archaeological complex that includes an ancient settlement that was occupied from the late Punic period to the Middle Ages. The site was named after a small church dedicated to the martyr of Trajan’s Forum, but it doesn’t exist anymore. Nowadays, it is called Fordongianus.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, some excavations revealed the remains of a complex nuraghe, which was made of basalt blocks. Nowadays, you can see the foundations of the central and secondary tower, some traces of other rooms, and some pieces of the wall.

The ruins of a village of huts have been found close to the nuraghe. Moreover, in the south-west of the nuraghe, there are some segments of a wall, which date back to a period between Roman times and the Middle Ages. You can see the re-use of a fragment of the milestone which was used during the Roman era to mark the distance from the nearest main town.

 

This Nuragic complex is located on the east side of Genuri, surrounded by a forest of olive trees, near a church dedicated to San Marco. The structure, made of basalt blocks, features a clover-shaped framework, a central tower and three secondary towers that have been arranged around a moon-shaped courtyard. The nuraghe is enclosed by a large wall, which has some parts that remain, composed of five towers and straight defense walls. The northern side of the nuraghe, however, did not have the protection of the wall because it was protected by the natural reliefs of the Giara.

The latest archaeological excavations, which have been carried out on several occasions since 2001, attest to the use of the nuraghe and its surroundings during the late Punic period as well as in the Late Middle Ages, with the continuous re-use and overlap of the older construction materials.

                                                                                                    

Nuraghe Santa Lucia is one of the 25 nuraghes located in the municipality of Assolo. It is located in an archaeological area, which also includes a church in the countryside that is dedicated to the same saint.

The nuraghe has a single tower with a truncated cone shape. Nowadays, you can see the foundation of the structure, which consists of four rows of large stone blocks.

Located in the region of the same name, Nuraghe Santu Milanu is located along a municipal road called Pardu Valencia. It is one of the 36 nuraghes that dot the area of Nuragus, a clear indicator of intense human presence since ancient times. Its name probably derives from the nearby Church of San Gemiliano, of which only parts of the foundations have survived.

The nuraghe is made of semi-square blocks of limestone. Its structure is shaped like a four-leaf clover, marked by four towers that are aligned to the cardinal points. The towers, together with the bastion, protect the central tower, which has a height of 3.5 meters. The mast is situated in a decentralized position, as it rests on a wall built between the north and south towers, leaving an inner courtyard between the east and south towers. Around the structure, especially in the southern sector, you can see the remains of a village of huts as well as some remains from the Roman epoch.

At the moment, the nuraghe is dated generically to the period between 1600 and 900 BC (Middle Bronze Age - Final Bronze Age), however, this information is waiting to be confirmed by an accurate archaeological excavation.

On the top of the Giara, the structures from the nuragic period are usually located nearby wellsprings. This is the case of the Scab'i Ois Nuraghe, which has a rectangular floor plant and was erected near a perennial source of potable water in the Cracchera Park, surrounded by an ancient oak forest.

 

Nuraghe Tramatza is located within the municipality of Gonnosnò. Both Nuraghe Tramatza and Nuraghe Emmauru overlook the course of the Figu River.

Only a few traces remain from this nuraghe, but you can see that the original structure consisted of a single conical tower, which was created by the overlapping of stone blocks, and housed the main chamber, which was connected to the outside by a narrow corridor.

The instruments that have been found at Santa Vittoria, which were used to crush food, presumably date back to the centuries of the Roman era. Some experts argue that these utensils, as well as the grinding stones made of basalt, may have been produced in the Giara. The area also houses the ruins of a small rural church dedicated to Santa Vittoria.

Sa Domu e S’Orcu is an example of the Domus de Janas, which are typical of the island. It is a small artificial cave carved from a single block of rounded limestone. Its entrance, shaped like the mouth of an oven, faces southeast and leads visitors into a longitudinal development that is divided into several rooms, which were once the burial chambers. The tomb has no decorative motif and, due to frequent raids and violations of the enclosure in the past, no objects belonging to the funeral rite have been preserved. The tomb dates back to the late Neolithic period and provides proof of human presence during the Pre-Nuragic Age.

The megalithic site of Sa Corona de su Crobu (The Crow Fence) is located on a slope of Mount Majore that overlooks the valley of the Pardu River. Its building materials, obsidian and pottery, date back to prehistoric times.

Its massive walls open toward the west side over an abyss formed by protruding rocks. It was once possible to enter the enclosure through two side doors, which had been placed to the south and to the north of the structure. The north gate, which is two meters high, is surmounted by a lintel. Both doors open up to an interior hallway made of masonry. The residual height of the structure is about three meters.

The defensive function of the enclosure is demonstrated by its cyclopean masonry, which is similar to other fortified walls on the island. The control system set in this region, probably during the Punic period, also included the fortresses of Santu Antine in Genoni and Santu Juanni in Asuni.

Some experts argue that an imposing granite rock, located within the inner walls of Sa Corona de su Crobu, is one of the first representations of the Mediterranean goddess Dea mater, a deity commonly worshipped by all Mediterranean populations.

 

The hill of Santu Antine, located in Genoni, is similar to the Giara, but smaller.

It has some traces of occupation dating back to the Nuragic age, including a nuraghe of the same name, which is flanked by a 40-meter-deep well and is surrounded by the remains of a coeval village. So far, this well is the deepest one from the Nuragic period that has been discovered in Sardinia, and it is also one of the oldest. Important materials from the Nuragic, Punic, and Roman periods have also been discovered in the well.

During the Punic Age, this archaeological site was fortified with the overlapping of a mighty square tower, built in blocks of basalt and limestone. It is presumed that the hill housed a military base, which was probably dedicated to checking the natural paths that cross the area.

This hill witnessed continuous human presence during Roman times, which has been confirmed by the discovery of some graves and other remains.

In the early Middle Ages, a small church, dedicated to Saint Constantine and Saint Helena, was built on the summit of the hill of Santu Antine. Specifically, it was built on the foundations of a Punic fortification, which is currently in ruins.

In terms of funerary architecture, the so-called "rotonda" (roundabout), a Nuragic temple often disconnected from other structures, is particularly important. From a structural point of view, the absence of a fountain or a well is a detail that makes this building different from others. Moreover, the discovery of some channels in its interior suggests the performance of sacred rites somehow related to the flow of water.

The Nuragic Complex of Sa Corona Arrubia belongs to this type of funerary structure. It is characterized by the regular form of its floor plan, its circular cover and the lack of a vestibule. The base ring, which has a diameter of 11 meters, consists of a stone wall made of basalt, a small niche and some blocks that once formed a platform.

There are still a few traces of the original paved floor and a small group of blank, unfinished basalt blocks that are arranged between the foundation and the floor slabs. The material found, although poor and fragmented, confirms that the structure dates back to the Bronze Age.

The Nuraghe Bruncu Maduli belongs to the category of proto-nuraghes, and it’s located at the southern edge of the Giara. It has a kidney-shaped floor plan and a bastion that is 4.5 meters high, built in basalt blocks of irregular shape.

There is a staircase and a niche at the entrance. The staircase leads to two upper circular chambers, one on the left and one on the bottom. Originally, before the archaeological excavations, it was thought that the two chambers were independent structures. The chamber on the bottom is connected to a descending passage that ends at a secondary door. From there, you can see another passage that might have once reached the terrace. The structure is in bad condition, so it is hard to determine. Recent studies suggest that it dates back to the Middle Bronze Age (fifteenth to fourteenth centuries BC).

About 100 meters away from the nuraghe, there are some structures dating back to a later period (Late Bronze Age, fifth to eighth centuries BC). These structures are part of an old village consisting of several huts that were grouped in blocks and dispersed around public areas. They have a circular shape and stone floors, and some of them still preserve the remains of hearths, niches, seats and shelves. The findings have allowed experts to determine the different functions of the huts. Some of them were used to prepare and cook food, whereas others were used to process different materials or to store tools or waste. The numerous demolitions and renovations of the walls testify to the past demographic and social vivacity of the village.

The Giara di Gesturi preserves archaeological remains from extensive Nuragic villages, including the settlement of Pranu d'Omus. Pranu d’Omus, like the village of Bruncu Suergiu, testifies to the continuous use of this region during Punic-Roman times.

This village is located on the northern edge of the Giara. The Taramelli, which is a book on the occupation of Sardinia in ancient times, discusses the existence of some remains of a tower with a buttress in the northeast that is in a state of ruin. However, he was probably referring to the ruins of a hut that was part of a large Nuragic settlement, featuring circular structures made of basalt blocks, which were placed around open public courtyards.

The municipality of Tuili is crossed by a Roman road, which is four meters wide and two kilometers long. It is interrupted numerous times to let other roads pass and to make room for the infinite number of cultivated fields in the area. It finally reaches a Nuragic village called Nuridda, which is located at the top of the Giara.

At the top of the plateau, the Roman road runs its course along the paulis, which are temporary ponds, until the municipality of Genoni, located on the north side of the Giara. Bia de Carros covers more than seven kilometers within the limits of this town.

The paved road, probably dating back to the first century AD, encloses some Nuragic sites. There are two channels, which were specifically designed to prevent the wheels on the Roman chariots from sliding. Bia de Carros is the longest section of paved Roman road that has been preserved on the island. In a state of abandonment since 2012, Bia de Carros has been kept visible to tourists thanks to a group of volunteers who remove the excess vegetation.

The Sacred Well of Coni is located not far from Nuraghe Santu Milanu. It was probably named after the town that was built in the same area during the Middle Ages.

At just 1.20 meters in diameter and 3.15 meters in height, the structure that intercepts the spring is modest in size, but, to be precise, it has a circular shape that consists of slightly protruding blocks made of basalt. This last detail could be related to the past presence of a covered circular tomb, but no traces of it have been found yet. The surrounding area is covered with slabs of sandstone, which had a hidden ancient paving under them. This paving as well as a coin of Claudius the Goth, which was found nearby, date back to the Roman epoch (268-270 AD). These findings attest to the presence of humans in the area since ancient times.

The discovery of the sacred well occurred by chance during a working day in the fields in 1912. At that time, the only object found inside the well was a bronze statue of a woman, which was named "Matriarch in Prayer" and  is now exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari.

The well has undergone some restorations. In fact, you can easily notice them by looking at the cement used to bind the blocks, which were originally laid flat to dry.

 

 

This monument is located on top of a hill called Mitza Santu Srabadori, which is within the municipality of Gonnosnò in the southern part of Figu. The well has been known and visited by locals since at least the early twentieth century, but it has been archaeologically investigated only recently, in 2001-2002 and in 2007.

The excavations carried out so far have yielded traces of human occupation in this region from at least the Iron Age until the late Middle Ages. The construction of the well in the Punic period and the construction of the Church of San Salvatore, which is now lost along with its surrounding cemetery, proves that this area was constantly frequented by humans for religious purposes.

The well consists of a rectangular stone atrium, which reaches the stairwell through a passage. This passage has a length of approximately six meters and leads to the underground chamber, which is covered by a circular tomb. Inside the tomb, there is the point of intersection with the aquifer. The structure is made of marl blocks, which were carved using a hammer and stacked in staggered rows.

Based on some comparisons with other similar buildings and the presence of some artifacts in the area, the structure can be dated to the recent and final periods of the Bronze Age, between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries BC.

In an area called Is Lapideddas, which is in the western part of Gonnosnò, there are four gigantic graves located within walking distance of one another. Now in different states of preservation, the tombs were built with limestone blocks and are a bit more than 10 meters in length. One of them is different, since it is a modest-sized tomb and was built with stones of different sizes bound by mud mortar.

Due to illegal excavations, it has not been possible to identify the exact stratigraphic context of the tombs. However, the limited evidence found so far has been valuable and has allowed the recognition of a particular sequence that dates back to the period between the Middle Bronze Age and Late Bronze Age. In the area of the exedra of one of the tombs, there were two hearths. Some of the materials that were used are associated with the culture of Monte Claro, so some experts hypothesize that the area had been inhabited before the tomb was built.