Every Day Bridging a Gap in My Mind

Even though the largest part of the day is occupied with work, there is always a moment I can dedicate to archaeology, amateur archaeology or armchair archaeology you may well call it. I don’t dig archaeological sites but I dig into any form of information, be it publications or the internet. I even get out of my armchair to dedicate my entire vacation to visiting archaeological sites, museums and exhibitions and taking pictures of stuff a normal person would walk by.  All because I want to tell the story of Sardinia and Sicily in prehistoric times.

Giant statue of Monte Prama.

Giant statue of Monte Prama. Over 5000 fragments and pieces were assembled in 28 statues to be displayed to the public for the first time in 2011. I made the trip in december to visit this exhibition.

I take my pictures of stones and sherds, publish them on my site and tell my visitors what they are looking at. I tell them why these stones or sherds are interesting and what happened to them in the past. I hope to attract their attention beyond their normal level of knowledge, to get them to look at details and not to walk past them, to recognize what they are looking at, and even perhaps enjoy what they are visiting, beyond the usual ten to thirty minutes it takes to bore them to death (seen one seen them all, it’s just a heap of stones what’s the use).

Bonu Ighinu culture

Decorated pottery Bonu Ighinu culture on display at the archaeological museum G.A. Sanna at Sassari, Sardinia. Treasures of the past.

So I sit in my armchair, well really it is an old kitchen chair, in front of my screen working away hundreds of images, reading endless stuff and combining it into texts hoping to capture the imagination of the traveller, the schoolkid, even the scholar, the same way these stones and sherds are capturing my own imagination. I sit there in the morning before going to work, sometimes in the evening to write some text, getting my satisfaction from a one-liner, a single appreciating remark left as a comment, bridging in my way the gap between the archaeologist who enthusiastically uncovered his artifact and the larger public interested in a remote past.



29th of june 2012 at the #dayofarch

Mapping Sardinian bronze age towers

I’m not an archaeologist, I am really a non-practising historian (specialized in contemporary history). So what am I contributing to an event like this where I decided last minute I may have something to say? I have a passion for archaeology, always had, so much that I took courses at the university to understand archaeology and participated in an excavation (as a student in 2004). I dived into the prehistory of Sardinia and visited archaeological sites. About two years ago I started mapping Sardinian bronze age towers called nuraghi (sing. Nuraghe) using a database and Google Maps to render these on a website available to everyone.  The Sardinian bronze age towers were built between 1800 and 900 BC and range from simple towers to complex multi-towered buildings.

Nuraghe Sorgono Ghilarza

Nuraghe Sorgono at Ghilarza

My work on this small self-defined project is confined to the weekend due to my normal day to day job (yes in the IT, and no nothing to do with my study). On saturdays I pick up the maps of Sardinia published by the Istituto Geografico Militare (IGM) scale 1:25.000 and look for the marks of the nuraghi on these maps. In the past the IGM and archaeologists collaborated to publish archaeological maps of Sardinia and since then the IGM has included them in the newest maps which are of 1989-1990.

I compare the marks to the marked nuraghi on Wikimapia. A number of passionates have started marking the nuraghi on Wikimapia which has made my work that much easier to find the exact geo coordinates. Next I locate the exact position on Google Earth and retrieve the information of the altitude (which is an approximate measurement).
This data, including the name of the municipality and the province of appurtenance, is entered in the database and then published through a Google map on the website. This way in the past two years I have built a database of over 3300 entries and am still working.

A sample of the map of nuraghi

A sample of the map of nuraghi in Google maps

In so far these bronze age towers have been subject to excavations or research I am trying to get as much as possible hold of published material to relate these to the nuraghi. One publication in particular concerns the archaeological maps of 1919-1946 by Antonio Taramelli, which provides also first hand information from the archaeologist, with a list of descriptions of archaeological structures and finds. But there are a lot of publications by many archaeologists with maps and lists of nuraghi or detailed excavation reports.

Obviously there is a concern regarding the preservation of so many prehistoric sites, and there are many more if you include nuragic (prehistoric) villages, tombs, sanctuaries. Many bronze age towers have already been dismantled, the stones used for construction of villages, roads and railroads. By keeping trace of these bronze age structures and publishing a list and a map I hope that my small project may contribute in maintaining this cultural heritage and serve as a bridge between the invaluable work of the archaeologists and the broader public.

Inside nuraghe Santu Antine Torralba

Inside nuraghe Santu Antine TorralbaNuraghe Losa Abbasanta


Nuraghe Losa at Abbasanta

Nuraghe Losa at Abbasanta





Map of Nuraghi