Restoration and display of the statues – Mont’e Prama

Restoration and display

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Prenda ‘e Zenia

The conservation and restoration project entitled Prenda ‘e Zenia (Jewel of the lineage) was developed by the Archaeological Conservation Centre (ACC), under the scientific direction of the Archaeological Heritage Superintendency of Sassari and Nuoro.
From November 2007 to November 2011, the ACC worked at the Restoration Centre of Li Punti, on the material found during the various campaigns at the site between 1975 and 1979: about 5,200 limestone fragments, which would cover an area of some 450 m2 and weighed more than 10 tonnes in total.

View of a part of the Restoration Centre room in which the finds to be restored were catalogued

In the preliminary phase of the project, the various fragments were classified by type and class.
Diagnostic tests showed that sculptures were made of organic limestone. Direct analysis of the surfaces yielded information on carving techniques, tools and method. Lastly, the state of conservation was analysed to identify the various degradation processes.
The data collected on the characteristics of each fragment provided input for restoration activities.

The interesting documentary on the restoration works, made at Li Punti in 2008 on behalf of the Autonomous Region of Sardinia.

The first step was cleaning, to remove dirt deposits from the surfaces and have a better chance of interpreting the stone fragments.
Phase 2 was piecing together the fragments, then assembling and repairing them and adding plaster filling.
Since the statues were to be exhibited in museums, steel supports were created, consisting of a central latticed column, from which arms extended, supporting the various pieces of the sculptures. As they proceeded with restoration works, the experts carefully recorded all the data gathered during observation and analysis of the sculptures.

Roberto Nardi, director of the Archaeological Conservation Centre (ACC), during restoration works.
A general view of the restoration workshop in which the various pieces were cleaned and recorded

In June 2015 and 2016, under the supervision of the Archaeological Superintendency of Cagliari, the Archaeological Conservation Centre returned to work on the findings from the excavation campaigns of 2014 and 2015, this time at the Civic Museum ‘Giovanni Marongiu’ in Cabras. This restoration project focused mainly on two models of 4-lobed nuraghes (another two are still to be restored), the statue of an archer and one of the two new types of boxer statues, similar to the Nuragic bronze statuette found in the Villanovan culture tomb of Cavalupo in Vulci (VT), with a great shield and armed glove held in front of the body instead of at head height. The second statue is on display but still requires restoration work.

The sculptures on show

Restoration has been completed! The exhibition 'Stone and Heroes' is organised.

In November 2011, a first, temporary exhibition, entitled La pietra e gli eroi (‘Stone and Heroes’), was set up in the Centre of Li Punti in Sassari, putting on display for the first time since their discovery, the partially recomposed statues mounted on new supports. A long glass showcase along the wall also showed the large number of findings not used in reconstruction of the sculptures.

Since March 2014, the entire set of restored sculptures has been on show in the exhibition Mont’e Prama 1974-2014 set up in parallel at the National Archaeological Museum in Cagliari and the Civic Museum ‘Giovanni Marongiu’ in Cabras.
The sculptures restored in the period 2015-2016 are on show at the museum in Cabras, where the latest findings are also displayed.

Models of nuraghes found in 2014 (the two on the right) and in 2016, shown at Giovanni Marongiu Civic Museum of Cabras.

Overall, between the two museums, visitors will find exhibited: 27 anthropomorphic statues (not complete) – comprising 6 archers, 3 warriors and 18 boxers, one warrior’s shield, 16 models of nuraghes – of which 5 simple, 4 four-lobed, 6 eight-lobed and one indefinable, 9 betyls – 6 in sandstone and 3 in limestone, and other unidentified sculptures. But the number is growing as excavation of the necropolis continues.

An impressive set of findings, attracting large numbers of visitors.

the places where you can see the sculptures

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