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  • S'Urachi
  • S'Urachi
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  • Italy
  • Sardinia
  • Provincia di Oristano
  • San Vero Milis

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Monuments

Periods

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Chronology

  • 1600 BC - 200 AD

Season

    • The S’Urachi Project: cultural exchange and daily life around a nuraghe in the historical period (San Vero Milis, Sardinia) The nuragic complex of S’Urachi, situated on the north side of the Gulf of Oristano on Sardinia’s west coast, offers the possibility of investigating contexts, apparently well-preserved, dating from the Iron Age, if not the Final Bronze Age, until the early Imperial period. Thus, over one thousand years of prehistory and history are present in a geographical position of primary importance for colonial, commercial, and cultural exchanges. For these reasons an international interdisciplinary project lasting several years has been set up to investigate the nuragic monument. _Research aims and activities_ The project, run by the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World (Brown University, USA) and the Museum of San Vero Milis, has the following research objectives: - a detailed study of cultural exchanges between the inhabitants of traditional nuragic and Sardinian culture on the one hand, and traders and migrants who came from elsewhere on the other, through the analysis of domestic contexts and craft working across the centuries; - the analysis of the paleo-environmental and geo-stratigraphic evidence in order to obtain absolute dating and direct evidence of diet and agricultural activities during the first millennium B.C.; - the contextualization of S’Urachi and the related territory of the Campidano di Milis and the Sinis in the first millennium B.C. _2013 campaign_ This was the first season of fieldwork and concentrated on two areas outside the external enclosure wall surrounding the nuraghe. The first, area D (12 x 15 m), was situated up against this external wall, south-east of the nuraghe, between towers 1 and 7. The second, area E (10 x 10 m), extends east of the complex in correspondence with towers 2 and 3. This entire area had been excavated in 1948 by Giovanni Lilliu, who dug a large irregular trench around the nuraghe in order to expose the external enclosure wall. The 2013 excavations were limited to exposing the archaeological levels immediately below the surface layer of eroded material in order to check the actual situation with respect to Lilliu’s intervention. It was clear that both areas had been touched by the 1948 excavations which had removed several layers. In fact, in area D a number of walls came to light that delimited rooms associated with late Punic materials (3rd-1st century B.C.), while in area E a zone of dumps and perhaps craft working activity, or more generic production activities, were uncovered. The finds from this area dated to the 5th century B.C.
    • The second fieldwork campaign in July 2014 continued excavation in the two areas begun in the previous year and undertook an extensive geophysical survey in the fields immediately East and North of the nuraghe. After the preliminary work of the 2013 season, the 2014 campaign effectively marked the start of careful stratigraphic excavation of well-preserved archaeological deposits around the nuraghe. Although the two areas under excavation are only some 25 m apart, and even if they are both directly adjacent to the outer defensive wall or 'antemurale' of the nuraghe, the 2014 excavations have brought to light very different contexts. Area D is defined by a number of structures that were built at a time when the nuraghe and its outer defensive wall were already being abandoned and falling into disrepair. Two well-defined rooms have been brought to light that are separated by a narrow corridor or alley leading to the defensive wall, where a corresponding doorway was found into the nuraghe. One of these rooms (A) was partially built over a tower (7) of the outer wall, and the corridor and doorway were back-filled towards the end of the 2nd c. BC, which unambiguously demonstrates that by that time the monument had lost its original functions, and that everyday life at S'Urachi was structured very differently from what it had been in previous centuries. Area E is by contrast almost devoid of 'later', i.e. 'post-Nuragic', structures, as a Phoenician-Punic style hearth or 'tannur' protected by a single L-shaped wall is the only construction that has come to light. So far, two phases have been observed at this structure, one poorly preserved and datable to the 3rd or 2nd c BC, and an earlier one of as yet imprecise date. Most of area E may be described as a large midden deposit of domestic trash mostly made up by large quantities of pottery and animal bones. The ceramic assemblage is dominated by local products, even if imported fine wares and amphorae are quite frequent, and may be dated to the 5th c. BC broadly speaking, ranging from the later 6th c. well into the 4th c. BC. The geophysical survey was carried out using a magnetomer and georadar, but the rough and uneven terrain seriously constrained the latter. In all, 1.3 ha were investigated East of the nuraghe towards the site of Su Padrigheddu (Fasti site #2585). Abundant evidence of numerous probably collapsed structures was detected closer to the nuraghe, while several ovens and kilns and one or two possible houses were signaled further East. Given the state of the terrain, shovel tests and test pits will be required to gain a better understanding of the nature and chronology of these structures.
    • The third fieldwork campaign of the S’Urachi Project took place over five weeks in July 2015, and was dedicated to three complementing fieldwork activities. These included first of all continued excavation in areas D and E outside the outer defensive wall or antemurale of the nuraghe, secondly intensive and quantitative collections of surface finds in the wider surroundings of the site, and thirdly a standing-building survey of the outer nuraghe wall. In area D, work focused on the zone below tower 1 of the antemurale, that is comprised westward by the defensive wall itself, and toward the S by the so-called ‘muro isodomo’. The latter was shown to represent a later construction built against tower 1 that defined an open area with a cobbled floor, which suggests it was an open space, i.e. courtyard. Phoenician finds on the floor suggest a date around the 7th to 6th century BC. West of the tower, an enclosed room was found with a hearth, which may similarly be dated tentatively to the 6th century BC. In area E, work continued in the open space in front of the antemurale, where remarkably large numbers of pottery and animal bone continued to be found. Butchering marks on the bones have confirmed the interpretation of this deposit as a domestic midden. The ongoing excavations showed moreover that in an earlier phase, probably around the 6th or 7th century BC, a stream of about 4m wide had run here more or less in parallel to the antemurale. It was subsequently channeled by the construction of two parallel embankments, and it was this channel that at some point in the 6th or 5th century began to be backfilled with domestic trash. Meticulous recording of the standing outer wall of the nuraghe has given insight into the construction process, showing that he towers were first built, and that there were originally ten of them, three of which have since been destroyed. The connecting walls were built later, using a ramp and platforms anchored into the walls. The towers and ramparts were topped by a parapet. A large area of ca. 2.5 Ha roughly to the N and E of the nuraghe was systematically investigated by collecting surface finds from sample points on a 20x20m grid. Punic material was attested more or less throughout the area, while the northern end yielded more Roman finds. Nuragic pottery of Iron Age date was encountered near the Su Padrigheddu site (see Fasti site #2585). Overall, the finds suggest that at least in the central and later centuries of the first millennium BC the wider area of S’Urachi was occupied up to about 150m distance from the nuraghe.
    • The fourth campaign took place over four weeks in July 2016, and was primarily a study season, dedicated to the study of ceramic finds and of the faunal remains. In addition, three trial trenches in the wider area around the nuraghe were excavated. Botanical and selected faunal samples had furthermore been transferred to the University of Valencia and Brown University for respectively archaeobotanical and geochemical analysis. The study of ceramics focused primarily on two large contexts, namely tower 7 and the associated Punic room in area D, and the domestic midden of area E. The former had been excavated in 2013 and 2014 (see reports) and the provisional date of the associated deposits was comprehensively confirmed by the formal identification of 1422 diagnostic fragments: while older finds of 6th to 4th century date are present, the bulk of the pottery can be dated to the 3rd and 2nd or indeed just the 2nd century BC. The evidence of the fine ware in particular (176 fragments) makes it clear that the assemblage cannot be dated beyond the end of the 2nd century BC. The domestic trash deposits had mostly been excavated in 2014 and 2015 (see reports) and the 2694 fragments examined ranged in date from the 7th to the 3rd century BC, again more or less as provisionally observed during excavation. It was particularly evident that the upper stratigraphic contexts were more mixed and younger, while from context 027 downwards all finds dated to the 7th and 6th centuries BC. These contexts also yielded notable numbers of Ionian cups, Etruscan bucchero and Etruscan-Corinthian wares. The faunal analysis has examined all bones recovered in three years of excavation, i.e. 9,048 fragments from area D and 16,684 from area E. Of these, respectively 6,876 and 11,514 were undiagnostic, leaving 2,172 and 5,170 identifiable fragments. The resulting faunal assemblage is not only remarkably large but particularly worth noting is the contrast between the two areas, with the 7th-6th century remains of area E showing a prominence of cattle, while sheep and goat dominate the 3rd-2nd century deposits of area D. Following up the surface and geophysics surveys of 2014 and 2015, three exploratory trenches of about 1.5x1.5 m were dug across the area previously surveyed in order to assess the stratigraphic integrity of the archaeological deposits. The trench sunk at the edge of the Su Padrigheddu area showed that deep ploughing in the 1970s has comprehensively destroyed the entire Iron Age site as documented by the surface finds collected at the time. The trench about 50m to the N was stratigraphically intact but archaeological non-informative. A third trench dug to the N of the nuraghe revealed a Punic-period drain and the top of a double-faced wall of possible Nuragic date at a depth of about 1.60m below the present field surface. All in all, the study campaign made it possible to process most of the pottery and animal bone excavated in previous years. The new insights not only enable us to begin publishing part of the site in detail, but also help guiding the ongoing excavations in both areas D and E.

Bibliography

    • Lilliu, G. 1949: Scoperte e scavi di antichità fattisi in Sardegna durante gli anni 1948 e 1949, Studi Sardi 9: 399-406 (http://www.sardegnadigitallibrary.it/).
    • Tore, G. 1984: Per una rilettura del complesso nuragico di S'Urachi, loc. Su Pardu, San vero Milis - Oristano (Sardegna), in W. Waldren (ed.), The Deya Conference of Prehistory: Early Settlement in the Western Mediterranean Islands and the Peripheral Areas. (BAR International Series 229). Oxford: BAR, 703-724.
    • Stiglitz, A. 2012: Bes in Sardegna. Nuove attestazioni da San Vero Milis (Sardegna centro-occidentale), in S. Angiolillo, M. Giuman, C. Pilo (a cura di), Meixis. Dinamiche di stratificazione culturale nella periferia greca e romana. Roma: Giorgio Bretschneider editore, 133-151. (www.academia.edu)
    • Stiglitz, A., Puliga, B., Usai, A., Carboni, S., Lecca, L. (2012), Il complesso di S’Urachi e l’insediamento di Su Padrigheddu (San Vero Milis - OR). Indagini interdisciplinari per un approccio al tema delle relazioni tra gli ultimi nuragici e i primi fenici, in Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e protostorica, La Preistoria e la Protostorica della Sardegna, Atti XLIV Riunione Scientifica (Cagliari, Barumini, Sassari 23-28 novembre 2009). Firenze, IIPP, 921-926. (www.academia.edu)
    • Roppa, A. 2012: L’età del Ferro nella Sardegna centro-occidentale. Il villaggio di Su Padrigheddu, San Vero Milis, FOLD&R it-2012.252: http://www.fastionline.org
    • A. Roppa, J. Hayne and E. Madrigali, 2013, Interazioni artigianali e sviluppi della manifattura ceramica local a S'Uraki (Sardegna) fra la prima età del Ferro e il periodo punico, Saguntum 15: 115-137.
    • A. Stiglitz, , E. Díes Cusí, D. Ramis, A. Roppa and P. van Dommelen 2015: Intorno al nuraghe: notizie preliminari sul Progetto S’Urachi (San Vero Milis, OR), Quaderni della Soprintendenza Archeologica per le province di Cagliari e Oristano 26: 191-218 (www.quaderniarcheocaor.beniculturali.it/).
    • J. Hayne, E. Madrigali and A. Roppa 2015: Continuità e innovazioni formali nei materiali da S’Urachi: un riflesso di interazione tra Nuragici e Fenici, in P. Ruggeri (ed.), Momenti di continuità e rottura: bilancio di trent’anni di convegni L’Africa Romana. Atti del XX Convegno Internazionale di Studi, Alghero - Porto Conte Ricerche, 26-29 settembre 2013. (L'Africa Romana 20). Rome: 1769-1779.
    • A. Roppa, 2015: La ceramica fenicia da nuraghe S’Urachi e dal villaggio di Su Padrigheddu (San Vero Milis, Sardegna): aspetti cronologici e funzionali, Onoba 3: 129-146.
    • A. Roppa, 2014, Manifattura ceramica, interazioni e condivisioni artigianali nell'età del ferro sarda: i materiali da S'Urachi-Su Padrigheddu (San Vero Milis), Rivista di Studi Fenici 41 (2013): 191-199.