This week’s excursion to the Providence Public Library prompted me to think more carefully about the materials that I will use to build my nuraghe. On the construction tour, we learned about the different mediums that have been used over the years to renovate the building (especially those used in the 1980s); during the architecture tour, we became familiar with the library’s initial construction materials, which included marble, granite, and scagliola. Our guides frequently discussed the relationship between monetary resources and the types of stone used – for example, scagliola (faux marble made from plaster) decorates the entrance hall instead of real marble, a stone that was far too expensive for the available budget. This aspect of our tours led me to consider how the specific materials used in nuraghi construction reflected the resources of those who built them, and how I can represent this in my nuraghe model.
Nuraghi were built primarily out of stone, of which the most common types were basalt and granite (Blake 1998, 59). Bronze Age Sardinian communities would have had ready access to these rock deposits, which are found close to the surface across large expanses of the island (Webster 2015, 10). Unsurprisingly, nuraghi are most frequently found in areas such as the middle-uplands, where there is greater access to these varieties of stone (Webster 2015, 67). Losa, a large nuraghe located on the plateau of Abbasanta, was initially built out of basalt in the Middle Bronze Age (at which point it was still a single tholos tower) (Dyson and Rowland 2007, 65) (Santoni 2010, 9). The central tower at Su Nuraxi, a comparable nuraghe, was similarly constructed using basalt blocks (Cavanagh 1987, 23). Both Losa and Su Nuraxi went on to become Class III nuraghi during the Late Bronze Age; my final project, which will construct a “typical” Class III nuraghe of the Late Bronze Age, will draw on both of these sites. I have therefore chosen basalt as my nuraghe’s primary building material.
Ancient Nuragic communities, which had begun as small farmsteads, would have had to quarry and transport this basalt to their nuragic building sites, potentially indicating a change in these communities at the beginning of widespread nuragic construction (Webster 2015). Although stone material had been present on the island prior to human settlement, perhaps nuragic building represented altered access to other forms of construction resources; technological development, population increase, or changes in social organization could have all contributed to the dawn of the Nuragic Age (Webster 2015).
Blake, E. (1998) “Sardinia’s Nuraghi: Four Millennia of Becoming.” World Archaeology 30(1): 59-71.
Cavanagh, W., et al. (1987) “An Investigation into the Construction of Sardinian Nuraghi.” Papers of the British School at Rome 55: 1-74.
Dyson, S., and Rowland, R. (2007) Shepherds, Sailors, and Conquerors. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Santoni, V., and Sabatini, D. (2010) “Gonnesa, Nuraghe Serucci. IX Campagna di scavo 2007/2008. Relazione e analisi preliminare.” The Journal of Fasti Online.
Webster, G. (2015) The Archaeology of Nuragic Sardinia. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing Ltd.
– Emily McCarthy