Why Do We Know So Little About The Nuragic Civilisation?

The Nuragic Civilization began in the early Bronze Age, around the
18th century BC; the name comes from its most characteristic monument: the “nuraghe”. Over 7,000 of these stone towers remain standing across Sardinia.

There is no written evidence left to us from this civilization, so we will never know what they called themselves, and it leaves us only to guess and theorize about how they lived. I think it’s fair to say they didn’t learn to write but had collective consciousness that allowed them to work together to build these megalithic structures.

We also have no useful testimonies from other ancient civilizations that could have visited Sardinia during the Bronze Age to document this rich civilisation. Everything has faded with time, which leaves many unanswerable mysteries that can be felt and have become part of the atmosphere of Sardinia.

There are some writings from the late Roman Age, but the Nuragic Civilisation had been extinct for several hundred centuries. All that remains are myths and legends that had gone through a millennia of Chinese whispers.

One point that history scholars seem to agree on is that the Nuragic people were descendants of people already on the island. They didn’t arrive from an already advanced civilisation, to make Sardinia their home.

This is important, it means that the Nuragic Cizilation developed over thousands of years, forming more complex forms of social organisations, as well as an understanding of agriculture, and the ability to extract and use metals. Most significant bronze, as you may have guessed. From this vague backdrop, it seems that the culture developed in isolation which would means that it developed a very unique culture, that we will never be deciphered, there may have been many insights and ideas crafted that are lost to humanity.

We can identify that there were external threats to be faced, a true test for an ancient civilisation. This leads the people to build nuraghi, which must have used incredible amounts of resources and required advanced agriculture and food storage capacity to feed builders. The megalithic stone towers were constructed on steep hills often with a remarkable vantage point. These are huge stone towers, with some single stones weighing many tones. You have to get pretty close to appreciate the scale. It’s a remarkable feat that they could have built so many, and build them in such a way that they still stand today. I don’t believe many structures built today, would last even a handful of centuries.

Some theories suggest the towers were positioned in such a way that made it possible to spread messages across the island.

For example, if an invading naval force was spotted, and sound or flag could be displayed from one tower, then relaid to another. Each tower is a node on a network spanning the length of Sardinia.

This would mobilise warriors and warn the entire population of any threats. A message of this form would be able to cross the island in a matter of minutes. Covering tens of kilometres with each tower. This would be an incredible strategic advantage in pre-historic times.

We also have to remember that most of the towers they build could be hidden, eroded or deconstructed. There could have been more than 20,000 towers at one time.

All these ideas should be taken with a pinch of salt, when a civilization doesn’t record there own culture, we are left wondering in the dark.

However, one way of understanding something about the Nuragic Civilization is to visit what remains from them. Standing inside of a nuraghe is the closest we can get to these people, and from there we can feel there power and wealth.

Jason Matthew Warland

Sardinia is a place beyond time. I visited the island for the first time over five years ago to volunteer on a farm. Now, I am living in the United Kingdom, working in regenerative agriculture (biodynamictrainee.com) but every time I have a holiday it will be in Sardinia. And maybe one day I will be able to combine my passions for agriculture and Sardinia together once again. Thanks for reading the article I hope it was useful to you.

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