|31 July 2011
Huge number of statue menhirs found on a Sardinian wall
The astonishing discovery in the Sardinian countryside (Italy) of a small drystone wall entirely made of broken standing stones - many carved with stylised human figures - could make the site at Cuccuru e Lai, near Samugheo, one of the most important prehistoric sanctuaries of the island.
Mauro Perra, archaeologist manager of the Villanovaforru Museum, said that the finding could be as important as the Mount Prama statues - a unique discovery with huge historical and scientific values.
The broken standing stones date back to the Copper Age, or about 5000 years ago, and fit perfectly on the drystone wall, as they were probably broken up about 70 years ago, when the wall was built.
Archaeologists started studying the area in the 1990s, when they made a dig near a giants tomb at Paule Lutturi; then in August 2008 they found a series of statue-menhirs (standing stones carved with human traits). Finally, this month a new dig led to the discovery of about 300 pieces of broken standing stones.
"Around the 3rd millennium BCE, anthropomorphic statues spread throughout Europe. In Sardinia they can be found on Mandrolisai, Barigadu, at Laconi and Isili - in each area they have their own symbolic traits. Some of the stones discovered at Samugheo have carved faces, an inverted U and a central frieze, either with a grid or a herringbone design," Mauro Perra said.
On a few of the recently discovered statues there is also a carved dagger. "This is typical of the carved stones found in the Alps," said Mr Perra. "It's also the same design found on the Lunigiana statue menhirs. That means that prehistoric Sardinia wasn't a small isolated island, but a place that was part of a larger cultural movement," he added.
Some of the symbols carved on the stones found at Cuccuru e Lai are completely different from those of the Laconi stones. "The real meaning of the symbols is still unknown, but these standing stones may be well territorial markers," Perra said. The tallest stones discovered are about 1.20m tall, but the vast majority are badly broken. Now the aim of both local authorities and the Archaeological Superintendence is to organize a lab to allow experts to restore the broken stones.
Edited from L'Unione Sarda, Sardegna 24 (15 July 2011)
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