The area of the SCI (Site of Community Importance) "Giara di Gesturi" is part of the region of Marmilla, which has had an important role since ancient times due to its fertile lands and strategic position. The wide distribution of archaeological sites, their number, and various origins provide undeniable evidence of continuous human presence in the area, confirming the importance of the whole region over the course of history.
Neolithic findings in the area of the SCI are the oldest evidence of occupation in the territory. There are traces of artifacts made of obsidian found in places that hosted small lithic workshops centuries ago. Moreover, several examples of burial caves, which were carved into the rocks and are known in Sardinia by the name of Domus de Janas (fairy houses), have also been found.
The imprint left by the Nuragic civilization in this area is deeper than the one left during the Neolithic period. There is a surprising number of nuraghes in this territory, which are often accompanied by traces of settlements, giants’ tombs, and sacred wells.
The findings dating back to the Carthaginian and Roman periods are less consistent, although the territory, at that point, was crossed by a major road from Cagliari to Libisonis Turris (now Porto Torres). Among the few testimonies related to those period, it is certainly worth mentioning the Punic Fortress of Santu Antine in Genoni and the settlement of Valentia, near Nuragus, whose decisive importance for the reconstruction of Sardinian history has been confirmed by recent studies.
In fact, the rich archaeological heritage distributed throughout the different municipalities within the SCI “Giara of Gesturi” speaks of an interesting distant past that recent excavations have certainly clarified.
In the centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire, new towns emerged in the region due to the aggregation of rural communities around the first churches, a very common process that took place until the Middle Ages. Later, the Judicature of Arborea favored the use of local workers in the construction of many religious buildings in the southern towns, including the churches of San Pietro in Villamar, San Gregorio in Sardara, San Miguel Arcangel in Siddi and the Madonna del Carmine in Mogoro.
The towns within the territory of the Giara were part of the Judicature of Arborea, but belonged to different parishes: Genuri, Gesturi, Tuili, Sini, and Setzu were under the government of the Marmilla parish; Albagiara and Gonnosnò were ruled by the parish of Parte Usellus; and Genoni, Assolo, Nureci, and Nuragus were part of the Parte Valenza parish. In this political context, many of these towns played, for various reasons, an important economic, strategic, and military role for the region.
After the fall of the judicial period in the fifteenth century, the history of these villages continued to rely on the feudal lords who owned them. Only after the fall of the feudal system were these populations liberated from the nobility. In 1848, the Kingdom of Sardinia included them in the administrative division of Cagliari, and they were included in the Province of Cagliari starting in 1859. Finally, the establishment of the new provinces in 2005 moved some of the SCI municipalities to the province of Medio Campidano (Genuri, Gesturi, and Tuili Setzu). Others, such as Albagiara, Assolo, Genoni, Gonnosnò, Nureci, and Sini, were absorbed by the Province of Oristano. Nuragus is the only one that is still part of the Province of Cagliari.