Archaeology rediscovers - Mont'e Prama

Archaeology rediscovers

Mont’e Prama is a hill of vaguely elliptical shape, defined in geological terms as a limestone relief. Its name (locally Mònt’e Pramma) reflects its uncultivated state, with large presence of dwarf palms, probably due to the abandonment of the fields in medieval and post-medieval times.

In the 17th century, Capuchin monk Salvatore Vidal was the first to write about the existence of an ancient centre at Mont’e Prama, one of the fourty oppida (fortified cities) in the Sinis area.
A precious reference of the farming status of the lands of Mont’e Prama comes from a document (Cabreo del Legado Pio de Cabras) held in the parish archives of Santa Maria di Cabras. In 1929, scholar Antonio Taramelli, in his Edizione archeologica della carta d’Italia al 100.000 – Foglio 216 (Archaeological map of Italy at a scale of 1:100,000 – Sheet 216), provided information on ancient settlements in the area: the nuraghes of Cannevadosu and Sa Tiria and a necropolis dating from Greek or Roman times.

The archaeological area was identified in 1972 by Silvano Ibba, a student of Giovanni Lilliu, in his dissertation on the archaeological findings in the central-southern area of the Sinis.

In the early 1970s, farmers Giovanni Corrias and Sisinio Poddi, while ploughing with a heavy plough unearthed the first sculptures of Mont’e Prama. The first documented findings date from the spring of 1974.
The material was handed over to Peppetto Pau, at the time director of the Antiquarium Arborense of Oristano. The Cagliari Architecture Superintendency recovered the fragments and organised a first brief excavation campaign in December 1975, directed by Alessandro Bedini.

Excavation campaign by Alessandro Bedini in 1975

1975, excavation campaign led by Bedini. General view from north-east.
General view of Bedini’s excavation of 1975
The south-west corner of Bedini’s excavation of 1975 coinciding with the northern tip of the subsequent excavation by Tronchetti of 1979.

Several other excavation campaigns followed: in January 1977 a test dig of only one day directed by Giovanni Lilliu and Enrico Atzeni, in December of the same year a series of test digs directed by Maria Luisa Ferrarese Ceruti and Carlo Tronchetti and, in the summer-autumn of 1979, the first systematic campaign under the direction of Carlo Tronchetti.

Test digs by Ferrarese Ceruti and Tronchetti in 1977

15 December 1977, excavations by Ferrarese Ceruti and Tronchetti, discovery of two statues.
Torso of a statue broken into three pieces by hitting the tomb slab when discarded.

Excavation campaign by Carlo Tronchetti in 1979

View of the tombs excavated by Tronchetti in 1979.
The funerary road and the line of tombs covered by square slabs of sandstone.
Il ritrovamento di un betilo
30 August 1979. In the sector to the west, you can recognise on the left the model of a complex nuraghe, on the right a torso and in the middle other fragments of statues.

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archaeology narrates

recent excavations