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The Nuraghi, 'Tombs of the Giants' & Domus de Janas of Sardinia

Sardinia is dotted with remnants of nuraghi (stone dwellings centered on a main tower or fortress) and "tombs of the giants" (monolithic burial chambers). These are what remind us of the so-called "Nuraghi Culture", the bronze-age people from the second millennium b.c. on the island. The sites are significant enough to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, represented by the Su Nuraxi nuraghi at Barumini (first photo,  below).

nuraghi at BaruminiThis is the nuraghi at Barumini. It is the largest one on Sardinia and is located in the southern part of the island roughly between Oristano and Caglieri.

The UNESCO description calls it "the finest and most complete example of this remarkable form of prehistoric architecture."

The complete UNESCO description can be found at


nuraghi of santu antine

Also quite impressive is the
Santu Antinenuraghi at Torralba, south of Sassari in the north. It is said to be the second largest structure of its kind. It is currently undergoing extensive work of restoration and preservation.

The large Albucciu nuraghi near
Arzachena in the northeast (below
and right)


The Buddusò nuraghi near the town of
that name in north-central Sardinia.

This is the structure at Torpè near
Siniscola on the northwest coast. It
sits by the side of the road and goes
largely unnoticed. It is marked by a sign,
but is one of many such structures that
is relatively neglected.


Two "tombs of the giants":

                       Li Loghi  (in the north near Arzachena)
li loghi

        Su monte è s'alpe just south of Olbia
su monte
Domus de Janas

Especially interesting is the kind of tomb known as domus de janas (house of spirits). They developed from the Middle Neolithic (c. 5th millennium BC) until at least the early Bronze Age (c. 3000 BC). They were built by hollowing out large rocks to form a funeral chamber within, leaving the natural rock surface to serve as the outer wall. They are most commonly found dug into limestone, sandstone and trachyte but may also be found to a lesser extent in granite and basalt. They are not exact of one another, but they have some features in common: for example, they have separate and interconnected internal divisions (cells or chambers) and flat ceilings. The chambers are where bodies were arrayed in a curled-up position and surrounded by funerary trappings. There are false doors engraved within; these represented access to the hereafter and are found in other cultures as well. There are two types of entrance: well and dromos—that is, a vertical shaft and a horizontal passage. There are slightly more than one-thousand of them found throughout Sardinia, generally in clusters, although a few may also be isolated. The one pictured here is on the site of the S'Ortale e Su Monte/San Salvatore complex near Tortolì on the southeastern coast of the island.

There is other relevant, explanatory material on this website in the article about the monolithic monuments of southern Italy and in the general article about Sardinia. There is also information in the entry on Malta about similar structures there.

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