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  • Monte Zara
  • Is Obias
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    Monuments

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    Chronology

    • 700 BC - 399 AD

    Season

      • Research undertaken by the University of Milan on Monte Zara, locality of Is Obias (Monastir, CA) confirmed the site’s importance, characterised by a very long chronology (from the nuragic period until the 4th century A.D.). The Archaeological Superintendency for Cagliari and Oristano explored the site between 2011 and 2012. The site covers an area of c. 2000 m2: evidence emerged within it of earlier structures probably of a cult nature, suggested by finds, out of context, and reused, such as a stone slab for offerings and a fragmentary basin “rotunda con bacile” (Fig. 2). It was surrounded by an imposing dry-stone wall of andesite and calcarenite, with a monumental entrance (c. 6.8 x 4.8 m), built directly on the rock, and a wide walkway. The monumental entrance presented an imposing profile with a double-cornered shoulders in the eastern corner of a limestone threshold with housings for a fixed uprights and a hollow for the closing staff (Fig. 3). The external facing of the entrance was constituted by _opus_ _isodomum_ (Fig. 4. A preliminary hypothesis suggests four occupation phases at Is Obias. The first period (c. late 9th-7th century B.C.) is attested by the preparation of the area and main walled structures (the curtain walls, monumental entrance with walkway, and a sub-circular room to the north-west: Fig. 5). The second phase (Punic period until the late Hellenistic period: 6th-late 3rd to the 2nd century B.C.), attested by evidence for the reorganisation, probably functional, of some sectors. In the third period (Roman: 1st century B.C. – 4th century A.D.) the sacred area probably lost its primary function (small production area with metal working waste, in the outer corner of the north-west side of the entrance). The fourth period (modern: c. 15th-20th century) saw the definitive abandonment and sporadic occupation on the site.
      • This was the second season of excavations carried out by Milan University at Monte Zara, locality of Is Obias, in the territory of Monastir (CA). New investigations in the previously explored area took place in five zones, which were revealed to be of great interest (Figs. 1-2). 1) Entrance to the fortified area: the monumental gate, identified in 2015, was uncovered in its entirety. The curtain wall, which wound along the east side, was built on the bedrock (Fig. 3). 2) The central walkway was freed of the collapsed material that obliterated it as far as the south-western excavation edge, reaching the rock on which the lateral containing walls were also built (US 10 and 15). It was only possible to trace a patch of beaten floor surface (US 55) in the section of the excavation edge. It may be suggested that this surface levelled the uneven rock surface across the area. The entrance of a small rainwater drainage channel was identified in correspondence with and underneath the offering table already noted during the 2011-2012 campaign. The channel was incorporated and reused in the eastern wall facing was (Fig. 4). 3) In order to evaluate the channel and its relationships with adjacent contexts, a trench was opened to the exterior of wall US 10, where the collapse of the wall itself (US 58) emerged, down to the bedrock. 4) In sub-circular room Alpha, situated to the north-west, further excavation confirmed the lack of an entrance. This room’s function remains uncertain. 5) Towards the west, a rectangular room (Beta: US 21-24.54) was built using the earlier curtain wall US 16 to close its east side (Fig. 5). A sandstone basin, perhaps relating to a basin ‘rotunda’, was reused in the perimeter wall US 24.
      • This was Milan University’s third campaign of excavations on Monte Zara, locality of Is Obias, in the territory of Monastir (CA). The interventions continued in several sectors of the area investigated during the previous seasons, towards the west, in the areas denominated_room Beta and area Gamma. Excavation also took place towards the south beyond the curtain wall (US 10) bordering the access road (area Delta) (Figs. 1-2). In room Beta, the removal of the layers of collapse including the collapsed walls of the room itself, revealed a probable floor surface of small slabs of andesite associated with a threshold, beneath which more andesite slabs emerged probably belonging to an earlier floor. Several bronze coins were found in this area, illegible but attributable to Roman types (two of which may have been issued by the mint of Aurelian) and Sardinian-Punic types. In area Delta, south of the wall US 10, the collapse was removed, exposing four steps cut into the bedrock (US 40), already seen last year. The steps were quadrangular with a rounded profile and a central groove running west to east (Fig. 3). Their southern part was irregular and jagged, while the northern part appeared to have been smoothed by the action of water. The northern part of the second step presented a quadrangular cut interpreted as the housing for one of the blocks of the south façade of the fort wall, as it was in line with the preserved profile. The block in question was probably dislodged by the structure’s collapse. The function and dating of the wall remain to be established. In correspondence with and underlying the offering table incorporated within the curtain wall, there was a channel in the wall itself linking the area of the rock-cut steps with the road. The excavation continued along the large walkway, and, where it curved south-west, two large white limestone blocks with rounded corners emerged, identified as the south doorjamb of a second access onto the road. The blocks presented a shallow circular cut, about 10 cm in diameter, which is interpreted as the housing for the wooden post constituting the door’s pivot. A few curved metal fragments forming the circular cladding on the base of the post’s rotation point were found _in_ _situ_ (Figs. 4-5). The block forming the doorjamb rested on a layer that remains to be excavated, which separates it from the bedrock US 40. Between the south and north doorjambs there was a row of boulders, including limestone and andesite blocks, apparently positioned to block a floor surface that is still preserved to the west of the second door. A large amount of ceramic material was recovered during the excavations including a small female head with polos and a stamped amphora handle.
      • This was Milan University’s third campaign of excavations on Monte Zara, locality of Is Obias, in the territory of Monastir (CA). The aim was to continue investigating room alpha, immediately west of the large access road and in the rectangular room Beta, situated at the western edge of the excavation (Fig. 1). In room Alpha, where the bedrock (US 40) had been partially reached, the baulk in the south-western corner was removed and the excavation was deepened by 1.54 m. The stratigraphic sequence confirmed that the deposition of the horizontal layers was affected by the lie of the bedrock, on which the walls were directly positioned, which sloped 4° from west to east with a change in height of c. 30 cm. The marked slope of the hill from south to north determined an increase in the depth of the layers in the northern zone, attributable to the effects of continual hill wash. The ovoid profile of the structure has now been completely identified, although its function remains uncertain but was probably linked to and in phase with the curtain wall that functioned as a retaining wall for the large entrance road. It was definitively ascertained that room Alpha did not have an entrance (Figs. 2-3). In room B, a later construction as revealed by the presence of black glaze pottery, the excavations revealed an inconsistent situation that was difficult to interpret. In the south-eastern corner, in correspondence the room’s threshold there were several horizontally-placed medium sized stones, and in the eastern corner there was an accumulation of stones with a central hollow. At the centre of the room, more medium sized stones formed a circle, while to the south-east of the latter an almost intact black glaze cup was retrieved from a dark brown layer rich in charcoal (Figs. 4-5). A small trench in the north corner showed the substantial nature of the layers in proximity to bedrock, due to the steep eastwards slope. A hollow in the bedrock itself was exposed on the north-eastern side of the room, while at least two of the perimeter walls seemed to have a rock-cut foundation trench. Fragments of handmade local impasto pottery, with impressed and false cordon decoration were found in the layers in which the walls were housed. Other walls belonging to quadrangular walls were identified to the north-west.

    Bibliography

      • F.Farci, C.Murittu, 2013, "L'insediamento di Is Obias sul versante orientale di Monte Zara-Monastir-Cagliari, prima campagna 2011-2012", in Quaderni della Soprintendenza Archeologica di Cagliari e Oristano, 24, 2013, pp. 103-138).