Why heroes - Mont'e Prama

Why heroes

A unique necropolis in Sardinia

The necropolis of individual tombs and the extraordinary discovery of the statues make the Mont’e Prama site unique in Sardinia.
Its features suggest that the late Nuragic communities of the Sinis had developed funerary customs linked to the emergence of a ruling class, perhaps even of a true aristocracy.

The iconography of the statues would thus seem to be the visible embodiment of the key values of these communities, whose patrician families were buried in what some authors define as heroon.

The heroon (from the Greek ἡρῷον) was a shrine erected to commemorate a hero.
Due to its nature as a combination of burial site and place of worship, the heroon was both a sepulchre and a temple.
However, while the heroa are well known in the Greek world, as of today we have no evidence or information of the existence of similar structures in Nuragic Sardinia.
At Mont’e Prama too, we cannot speak of heroon in the strict sense. At the present stage of research, no reliable evidence has been found of ruins of a shrine, although the discovery of some squared blocks suggests that it might have existed in the area.
In any case, Mont’e Prama was certainly a monumental necropolis and the statues that once stood there reproduce and magnify the people to whose memory the necropolis is dedicated, or their real or mythical ancestors, interpreted as heroes.

The sculptures of Mont’e Prama were produced by a society which had radically changed from the bronze age. They do not in fact represent ‘giants’, as they are commonly called.
For this new society, the far off times of the builders of the nuraghes, considered as heroes, represented a period to be worshipped, the roots of their identity.
Both the dead placed in the tombs and the statues of Mont’e Prama were considered heroes, embodying the values, ideals, power and identity of a people and a civilisation that saw in them the prestige of a glorious past.

Further readings:
L’Heroon di Mont’e Prama, Bedini-Tronchetti et alii 2012, pp. 15-23
Mont’e Prama. L’Heroon dei giganti di pietra, Tronchetti 2015
L’Heroon di Mont’e Prama nelle pagine di Giovanni Lilliu, Zucca 2014
Guardiani, dei o eroi? marzo 1974, nel podere di Sisinnio Poddi, presso Cabras, venne alla luce un grosso reperto archeologico. Cominciò così la lunga quanto appassionante vicenda dei giganti di Mont’e Prama, Manunza 2013
La pietra e gli eroi, Minoja e Usai (a cura di), 2011
Interpretare Mont’e Prama: l’heroon, Bernardini 2015, p. 52<
L’Heroon di Mont’e Prama, Zucca 2013

check the references