Ancient Sardinia Tour
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Laconi Menhir statues Museum
A chat with Giorgio Murru

Perda 'e s'Itria standing stone viewGiorgio Murru is an archaologist and the curator of the Menhir statues Museum in Laconi. He managed the excavations at Is Circquittus. We asked him a few questions on the archaeo research in Sardinia and on the Museum.

Is it longtime that the menhir statues and other megalithic monuments such as standing stones and dolmens are studied in Sardinia?

In the beginning in Sardinia the archaeological research was devoted mainly to the Nuragic civilization. That happened also thanks to the discovery of the great site of Su Nuraxi at Barumini, made by professor Lilliu in the Fifties. And you know, the nuraghi are scattered all around our island and they represent a kind of "national" mark for us. Well, at the end of the 19th century something was already found in some caves, but only with the discovery of the findings of Ozieri, we were able to date precisely and better define the people living in Sardinia in the late Neolithic (3400-2700 BC), the so called "Ozieri culture". This was a very important and homogeneous civilization in Sardinia. They were farmers and shepherds, they lived in large villages and traded the obsidian of Monte Arci. And they built megalithic monuments. At the beginning they buried their deads in the domus de janas, tombs cut in the rock, but later they built more elaborated graves, standing stones and dolmens.
The very first standing stones were simply rough standing monoliths, but soon they became "protoantropomorphic", that is to say with a smoother side and a more recognizable human shape. I think that in this phase the monoliths could possibly have been coloured or also dressed or provided with tools or weapons
, even if we still don't have any direct evidence of this. In the last period the standing stones became undoubtedly antropomorphic, with a carefully carved ogival shape, up to the menhir-statues with carved noses and eyebrows, breasts or weapons found around Laconi.

Could you find these menhir-statues all around Sardinia or only here?

While the making of antropomorphic standing stones began to decline in the island, here in central Sardinia, in a restricted area of 25 km around Laconi, it increased and evolved, becoming the beautiful menhir-statues you can see in the museum. They were erected during the last phase of the Ozieri culture, when the local tribes met other cultures and began the use of metals.
The antropomorphic standing stones are spread over several ancient cultures, from Spain to the Caucasus. In Italy our menhir-statues have some common features with the stelae-statues of the Lunigiana valley or with those found in the alpine regions.

Can you tell us something about the museum of Laconi?

Well, we opened the museum four years ago. Its main aim was to learn more about the menhir-statues and the civilization who erected them. Starting from scratch. Then we studied which kind of visitors were interested in such a museum. Now we are ready for a new phase: we have worked on a multimedia support that you can already explore with the computers in the museum. Now we have to finish it and put it on CD. And we are planning to put all the material online too, creating an international network of museums like ours.

Any other future project?

We would like to create the "Valley of the standing stones". At first the best way to protect the monoliths was simply to put them in the museum, but now it is time to show them in their original context, maybe with a duplicate stone.

Which is the attitude of Sardinian people regarding their megalithic monuments?

Sardinia is a conservative island. It is difficult that a mark of the past is destroyed on purpose. Not because it is fully understood, but just because it is unlikely that a shepherd destroys a part of his own world.
We have been also helped by some good regional laws (along with Sicily, Valle d'Aosta, Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Sardinia has got more autonomy than the other Italian regions). A remarkably good law was no. 28, year 1984, recently improved by law no. 4, year 2000, that gives assistance and support to co-operatives and companies working also on archaeological projects, museums and archaeo parks.

Are there legends or stories on the menhir-statues of Laconi?

There is a beautiful story explaining some of the carvings on the stones: when the Nuragic queen Iddocca knew from one of her knights that her beloved daughter was killed during a raid, she threw some stones far away. She was so broken-hearted and upset that she left her fingers' mark on the stones.

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