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The necropolis of Montessu


The necropolis of Montessu is located just a stone’s throw from the small village of Villaperuccio along the provincial road leading to Narcao. It is one of the most important burial sites in Sardinia from the Prenuraghic Era.
This was the place in the Late Stone Age where peoples coming from the Middle East during the 3rd millenium B.C. decided to build a city for their dead. The volcanic rock hillsides of Sa Pranedda, a hollow valley forming a natural amphitheatre, provided the ideal setting for these underground places of eternal rest consisting of about forty small dug-out grottoes, which in local dialect are known as domus de janas meaning fairy houses or witches’ houses.
These were the same people who brought the so-called San Michele or Ozieri culture to the island.

The most interesting examples are the sanctuary-tombs known as sa cresiedda and sa grutta de is procus (the “little church” and the “cave of pigs”). These imposing tombs feature entrances about two metres high and have wide, open areas carved into the rock, closed in by rows of large stones placed in a kind of semicircle, outlining the sacred areas which may have been used for excarnation of the deceased and for accommodating friends and relations who came to pay their last respects.

A large chamber acts as a vestibule with hearths in the middle of the room and cups cut into floor. The burial chamber is at the rear and is divided into sections by solid dividing walls and you can look into this area through fascinating eye-like portholes.

Some of the tombs have decorative and symbolic figures carved on the walls linked to the fear and worship of the dead. They include festoons, denti di lupo (wolves' teeth) and spirals, carvings of bull’s horns and bull’s heads and blind doors for passage into the after-life.

Others still show signs of paint with bands of red ochre and yellow and silhouettes of the Dea Madre (Mother Goddess). These symbols and colours provide us with tangible evidence of the sense of spirituality felt by these people, signs of an intense religious feeling displayed in simple fashion but with rich artistic motifs.

The rich pottery and stone burial goods found at the necropolis confirm that the site belonged to the Late Stone Age civilization of San Michele di Ozieri and document the continual use of the area almost up to the Nuraghic era.


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