Visited a Nuragic tower and settlement today – Palmavera. Fascinating. In occupation roughly 1500BC to 900BC. There are all the hallmarks of the typical Sardinian Nuragic tower, surrounded by huts. This is a Class II example, with a double central tower rather than the simpler single tower, or the more complex (Class III) multiple tower examples – most of which are in the south. As usual I have acquired a rather academic archaeological book in advance to read up on the culture in advance, as well as purchasing, today, the book on the site available at the ticket office. The guides seem to assume that the towers were the dwelling places of chiefs, surrounded by the lesser people in their huts. Even in the article criticising previous attempts to suggest colonisation from the Eastern meditteranean must have been the origin of such comlpex architecture, supporting instead the idea of a developed local megalithic culture, the assumption remains that these towers are the dwellings of chiefs. Yet everywhere, unexplained, and glossed over, there are miniature models of these towers. In the huge round ‘meeting hut’ here at Palmavera, (as found elsewhere), where there is a bench all the way round the inside of this largest of all the huts, and a central pedestal, the item on the pedestal, the focus of the meeting, is a model of the tower – yes the one that is just outside this meeting hut. In all the archaeological digs, little hand-held or window-sill size models of the tower are found from the period. It strikes me, I have to say, that one hypothesis archaeologists might do well to investigate would be that these towers were not dwelling places at all – at least not of the living! It strikes me that these towers were ceremonial places, and if utensils have been found there then they may have been offerings, or there may have been feasts in these towers. Inside, the conical corbelled roof reminded me of Newgrange.
After Palmavera, I cycled on to Anghelu Ruju, an older – pre-Nuragic necropolis with more than twenty tombs, and evidence of multiple burials from the end of the Mesolithic right through the early Neolithic and up to the Nuragic period. They were hollowed out from what seemed like a limestone shelf, eerie, ancient, sometimes square, sometimes circular, covering many centuries of use and reuse. In one, there was a doorway at the end of the entrance passage, flanked clearly by crescent-moon like bulls-horn reliefs. It was a very potent image of the deepest past, and struck me that perhaps these dark, enclosed spaces where the spirits dwelled might indeed, in the Nuragic, have become the heart of the new-style settlements : no longer perhaps specifically burial sites, but the dwelling places of spirits whose cults had begun in the necropolises. Idle speculation perhaps. Amateur archaeology, certainly. But what delightful weather to do it in 🙂
See this for some news on the Nuragic culture!