The 2014 excavation campaign
Excavation at Mont’e Prama was resumed on 5 May 2014, under a joint project by the Archaeological Department, the Universities of Cagliari and Sassari, the low-security Prison of Oristano-Massama, the Municipality of Cabras and Oristano University Consortium ‘Uno’.
The team led by Professor Gaetano Ranieri performed geophysical tests using georadar. The subsoil was examined from 16 different angles to detect changes in subsurface features. In all, 76,660 square meters were analysed. On the basis of the main geophysical results and analysis of aerial and satellite photos, trial excavations were carried out in three squares in the easternmost portion of the area, without however finding any elements confirming the features recorded by the instruments. Thus, excavation focused once again on the necropolis, to the south of the portions previously investigated by Bedini and Tronchetti.
The most interesting data was found in the squares immediately to the south of the southern burial site excavated by Carlo Tronchetti in 1979. Archaeological finds suggested that the sequence of tombs and the dumping of sculpture fragments continued.
Excavations have revealed an arrangement of eight tombs, set in three irregular lines, of the simple well type, covered by a small heap of stones, destined for single burials in crouched position. Judging from the pottery dating at least from the 10th century BC, they were the earliest tombs at the site.
In addition to these simple well tombs, a further 8 tombs, aligned and covered by a square slab, have been found.
The most surprising finding of the 2014 excavations was the recovery of two statues of boxers, adding a new iconography to the Mont’e Prama sculptures. These statues are very close to the iconography of the famous Nuragic bronze statuette of Cavalupo di Vulci of the 9th century BC.
The 2015-2016 excavation campaign
Lastly, a new excavation campaign under the direction of Alessandro Usai was carried out from May 2015 to December 2016, with the collaboration of Antonio Vacca, Franco Campus and Silvia Vidili.
This campaign, which ended in December 2016, achieved its first goal, which was to recover and reopen the entire long trench opened between 1975 and 1979, which had been backfilled in the 1980s.
The old trench was linked to that of 2014 and thus the funerary complex crossed in its entirety the land owned by the Confraternity of the Sacred Rosary from south-south-west to north-north-east for an overall length of about 70 meters. The excavation of the necropolis explored by Bedini was extended and deepened, thus leading to the discovery of at least 22 new tombs, half of which belonging to an intermediate type with well partially constructed of stone and with covering slabs of various shapes.
Other probable simple well tombs were discovered in the strip to the east of the necropolis excavated by Tronchetti. In the ‘road’ to the west of the Bedini necropolis, excavation revealed a further short stretch of the dump of sculpture fragments, which had not been touched by either Bedini or Tronchetti. Once again, no element at the site clarified the original position of the sculptures.
The investigation also covered the strip to the west of the necropolis, at the foot of the Mont’e Prama hill; this included the full excavation of the great round Nuragic structure and of a small adjacent Nuragic building.
Thus present investigation programmes aim not at finding other sculptures but at extending the excavation area to clarify organisation of the site and interpret its history over the long period running from initial creation of the necropolis up to development of the sculpture complex, and then on to its destruction. The aim is to offer plausible hypotheses, albeit open to verification and development, on the relationship between the sculptures and the necropolis and on the existence of the supposed temple or sanctuary and of other spaces or buildings with various functions (Usai 2015, page 87).
For more detailed information on recent excavations, see:
Usai-Zucca 2015, pp. 53-64; Usai 2015a; Usai 2015b; Bernardini 2016.
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