Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

Special Introductory Offer!
Legacy in Stone Volume 54 Number 6, November/December 2001
by Robert H. Tykot

Sardinia's ubiquitous towers recall a time of fortified farmsteads.


A mosaic of ancient history described by D.H. Lawrence as "lying outside the circuit of civilization," the 9,300-square-mile island of Sardinia was in fact widely settled and in the mainstream of western Mediterranean cultural developments during the Neolithic and Bronze Age. The Greeks called the island Ichnussa, or footprint, because of its shape, but Sardinia's central location makes the term metaphorically appropriate as well. During the Late Bronze and Iron ages, significant trade and contact existed with the eastern Mediterranean; Phoenician colonies were established; and the island was dominated by a succession of Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, and others. Nevertheless, many elements of the indigenous Bronze Age Nuragic culture that characterized Sardinia beginning about 1750 B.C. survived into the medieval period. More than 7,000 stone monuments known as nuraghi (their Sardinian name, meaning a stone structure or pile with a hollow interior) still dot the modern landscape. Decades of intensive archaeological investigation by local and foreign scholars have provided a solid foundation for an understanding of the Nuragic culture and its relation to other Mediterranean societies.

Robert H. Tykot is an associate professor of anthropology and director of the Laboratory for Archaeological Science at the University of South Florida.

© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America