Monte Baranta complex on Sardinia   3 comments

This military survey, while including the first description of the wall, failed to mention the enclosure-tower, il recinto-torre.


The study of the stone circle and menhir is due to E. Contu in 1962, who dated the monument to the Nuragic era particularly, for the singularity of its structure, and he called it ‘nuraghe anormal’ – or ‘pseudo-nuraghi’. It is now known as ‘proto-nuraghi’ or ‘corridor-nuraghi’ since in those years such buildings were being discovered in growing numbers throughout the region. Research now places the complex in the Chalcolithic Age, and more particularly at the time of the culture of Monte Claro (2500-2200), confirming what had already emerged in surveys conducted in Monte Ossoni & Castelsardo (Moravetti 1978).
The fortress, or enclosure-tower known as Su Casteddu – the castle – is located on a rocky plateau dominating the entire Nurra plain and the wide bay of Alghero. It is an enormous fortress with a crescent-shape unique in Sardinia, standing about 3.5 m high and 5 m thick, and is made of large, irregular overlapping slabs of trachyte – an igneous, volcanic rock. Boulders of trachyte can be seen all over the entire island: in heaps by the roadside or in gathered mounds in fields or scattered like giant footballs across pasture-land. A glassy form of trachyte, obsidian, was fashioned – like flint elsewhere – into neolithic tools, in Sardinia.


Taking into account the scarcity of fallen boulders, archeaologists conclude that the fort was never very high [ 5-6 m.] nor was it covered – though stepped features allow the possibility of an inner wooden structure.


The crescent enclosure has twoentrancesE-W and N-S, covers 380 sq.m. and is open to the west, where the 200 m cliff provides view and defense.


A hundred metres to the north is the settlement’s defense-wall – a massive construction 97 m. long, 3 m. high and 5 m. thick.


Some individual boulders are the height of a man. It served as defense for the inhabited area, where traces of dwelling have been found: huts of 6 m. x 7 m.with paved floors.


The sacred area outside the wall is an open space featuring a wide megalithic circle (diam. 10m.), a flat extent of limestone pavement and two menhirs (trachyte slabs of phallic shape), one badly broken, the other almost intact.


Above is the stone circle – not easy to pick out, it has a diameter of 10 m.


Marks at the base of the stone, and the receiving hole, lead Morevetti to conclude that the menhir was still being prepared, and was never erected – which has raised questions about the abrupt abandonment of the site.

Work is still in progress, and some areas are not accessible.


The absence of lichen on some stones show where they have been replaced.


The entrance through the wall to the settlement area.

The materials found during the excavations are related to the Chalcolithic culture of Monte Claro (2400-2100 BC) which is the period of the construction of the complex. The site was inhabited for a relatively short time, in view of the low quantity of artefacts dating back to this phase of its use.
The site was later used in the Early Bronze age (1800-1600 BC) but was limited to the defensive-tower alone – and subsequently a far more sporadic usage during the Nuragic and Roman periods.

It is situated about 3 km from Olmedo on the way to Alghero, and is modestly sign-posted on the left. Drive up the metalled lane for 1km. until a dirt track appears on the right. Wire-fencing and a panel indicate the perimeter of the site, and the parking area. There is a cleared path up to the complex, but no other markers. A fence on the right protects unwary walkers from the cliff-edge, which is not visible. Further along this ridge can be found the hypogeic necropolis of Santu Pedru.

Taramelli, the then Superintendent of Antiquities in Sardinia and considered the greatest archaeologist who has worked on the island in the first half of the 20th century, referring to the nuragic temple sites of the Olmedo region, wrote: “the discoveries at Olmedo is one of the great good fortunes that I can boast of in thirty years as a struggling archaeologist in Sardinia.”
But he had a life-long battle with the locals, who, seized by “the mania for treasure that rules the soul of all Sardinians” stole continually from the sites he was studying. “They are the worst kind of people that one can imagine. They are mainly the lunatics from every part of the island :- vicious inhabitants of taverns, alcoholics, idlers and vagrants who wander here and there in search of work. They ransack old monuments in the hope of wealth yet cannot recognise the treasures in their hands. They steal cattle in the countryside, cut down trees and raid vineyards – and then through daring, impunity, the pledge of silence – ‘omerta’ – and the cowardice of their fellows, rise in the hierarchy of crime . . . Would that they leave in peace the archaeologist, who is after all just a thief like them and who also, like them, belongs to the large family of the Impoverished!”

Posted March 17, 2008 by MH

3 responses to “Monte Baranta complex on Sardinia

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  1. Hey, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!…..I”ll be checking in on a regularly now….Keep up the good work! :)

    – Marc Shaw

  2. I’m very glad to see a very interesting thing about the archeology of Sardinia.Only sardinian people do not understand the value of our tresors!
    Ad Majora !!

    • Gracie, marcello.
      Your island is beautiful – and was was a big influence on us here in southern France in prehistoric times.
      I want to visit your country again: so much to see and to learn.

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