Nuraghi, the famous dry-stone walled towers of Sardinia, are usually regarded as prehistoric monuments, because they were first built in the Bronze Age. They continued to be inhabited long after, however, and survived as often substantial settlements into later periods. Even if the later occupation phases of these monuments are routinely acknowledged, they have rarely been investigated in their own right – which is precisely what the S’Urachi project has been doing since its start in 2013, investigating the ‘afterlife’ of one major nuraghe from late prehistory through to Classical and Hellenistic times. The Sardinian nuraghi are moreover key sites for the investigation of the colonial encounters and cultural interactions between local Sardinians, Phoenician traders and Punic settlers, because they are the only places that were continuously inhabited before and during the colonial presence of Phoenicians and Carthaginians in Sardinia.
The nuraghe under investigation is that of S’Urachi, situated in the Upper Campidano and Gulf of Oristano regions of west central Sardinia. Standing halfway between the rapidly rising slopes of the Monti Ferru to the north and the extensive salt marshes and lagoons of Cabras to the south, its inhabitants enjoyed easy access to a wide range of environmental zones. S’Urachi is one of the largest nuraghi in the region, while it is also just 15 miles away from the Phoenician colonial settlement of Tharros and the monumental indigenous cemetery of Monte Prama, which all testify to the long (pre)history of colonial encounters in this region.
In this lecture, I will present the key results of the past seven years of excavation at S’Urachi, showing first of all the continuity of occupation throughout the first millennium BCE, and use the evidence to explore the extent and depth of cultural interactions at the site between Phoenicians and Iron Age ‘Nuragic’ Sardinians.