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Carbonia, Monte Sirai Archaeological Park

Carbonia, Monte Sirai Archaeological Park

Carbonia, Monte Sirai Archaeological Park

Located about 2 km North-West of the city of Carbonia, on a plateau of 191 m above sea level, it is about 17 km from the southern coast and the isthmus of the island of Sant'Antioco, and just 5 km from the west coast of Paringianus. From the Park you can enjoy a panorama that embraces the Sulcitan archipelago of Sant'Antioco and San Pietro, the Cixerri valley and that of the Rio San Milano.
An archaeological park of excellence, Monte Sirai dominates an extraordinary landscape from its plateau and includes at least 40 sites, built starting from the Neolithic to the end of the Punic Age. Around the plateau and inside the Park there are also other sites of exceptional interest, such as the Nuraghe Sirai. Its strategic position, dominating the fundamental road axis of the ancient Via Sulcitana, and over the access to the mineral deposits, explains its foundation by the Phoenicians and its restructuring by the Carthaginians, who gave Monte Sirai its most marked historical imprint.
Founded around the middle of the 8th century BC, the Phoenician settlement grew in the last quarter of the following century. In the Punic Age it was certainly an expanding center, at least from the 4th century BC onwards; the last planning dates back to a time shortly before the First Punic War (264-241 BC). At the beginning of the Roman domination of Sardinia (from 238 BC), Monte Sirai remained a Punic center: the new Roman centers are in fact located downstream, around the plateau and in the area of the current city of Carbonia. The most recent excavations have discovered that in the southern end a sector of the town was reoccupied in late ancient times (V-VII century AD).
The settlement of Monte Sirai, characterized by a widespread topography divided over different areas of the plateau, includes three major sectors: the upper town, the necropolises and the tofet.
The town. The upper town is enclosed on the northern side by fortifications: like the entire residential area in light, they date back to the later Punic phase (3rd century BC). Through the North Gate you enter the only public space, a small square dominated by the temple of Astarte, which was certainly the heart of the center and of the community.
Most homes have a floor plan with rooms side by side. Among these is the house “of the talc skylight”, (late 7th century - 2nd century BC).
Probably the most complex court houses belonged to a group of ruling families, such as the so-called “Fantar house”, which is in fact located in the immediate vicinity of the temple. The most recent excavations have revealed in the southern end a sector of the town that was reoccupied in late ancient times (V-VII century AD).
The necropolises. Several burial areas have been identified and investigated, outside the town. To the north, we find the first of the necropolises, the Phoenician one: a large area of cremated tombs dug into tuff rock or earth, covered by stone slabs. The Punic Age burial areas are fascinating: in particular, the hypogeic necropolis, composed of 13 underground family tombs, with interior spaces punctuated by sarcophagi, pillars and niches for burials; you can also visit the children's necropolis (with burials in amphora) and a recently discovered burial area, consisting of single tombs in a pit.
The tofet. To the north-west of the necropolis, there is the Tofet, a particular cemetery sanctuary, the subject of lively debate and dedicated to children born dead or died at an early age, before being integrated into the community of the living. Its construction dates back to the Punic period (4th century BC). The urns (common pots) containing the ashes of the deceased children were placed in an open-air area, in front of a small temple, preceded by a staircase. The sanctuary has also returned numerous small monuments in the form of steles that mainly represent male and female deities: at the Villa Sulcis Archaeological Museum you can find the reconstruction of part of the tofet in room 3, dedicated to the findings of Monte Sirai.

History of the excavations
Archaeological excavations, started by Sabatino Moscati and Ferruccio Barreca, have involved the settlement of Monte Sirai, with the town, the tofet, the necropolises; at the beginning by a joint mission between the University of Rome and the Archaeological Superintendence of Cagliari, then by the Superintendence itself and the CNR (Institute for Phoenician and Punic Studies) in Rome and finally by the University of Sassari (last concessions by Michele Guirguis).

M. G. Amadasi - F. Barreca - P. Bartoloni - I. Brancoli - S. M. Cecchini - G. Garbini - S. Moscati - G. Pesce, Monte Sirai II. Preliminary report of the Archaeological Mission of the University of Rome and the Superintendence of Antiquities of Cagliari
, (Semitic Studies 14), Rome 1965. P. Bartoloni, The urban structure of Monte Sirai in the Republican Age, in “Roman Africa” 10, Proceedings of the 10th Study Conference, Oristano 11-13 December 1992, Sassari 1994, pp. 817-829
P. Bartoloni, The Necropolis of Monte Sirai - I, Rome 2000 (“Collection of Phoenician Studies” 41).
P. Bartoloni et al., Monte Sirai 1999-2000, in “Journal of Phoenician Studies” 30, 1, 2002, 40—119.
Father Bernardini - C. Perra - G. Balzano, Monte Sirai. The works and the days. The daily life and culture of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians of Monte Sirai, Exhibition catalog, Carbonia 2001.
S. Finocchi, Reconnaissance in the territory of Monte Sirai, in “Journal of Phoenician Studies” 33, 2005, pp. 225-259.
M. Guirguis, Phoenician and Punic Necropolis of Monte Sirai. Archaeological surveys 2005-2007, 2007.
M. Guirguis, The Spaces of Death in Monte Sirai (Carbonia - Sardinia). Funerary rituals and ideologies in the Phoenician and Punic necropolis (excavations 2005-2010)
, in “The Journal of Fasti on Line” 230, 2011, pp. 1-32.
M. Guirguis, Mount Sirai 1963-2013. Half a century of archaeological investigations, Guides and Itineraries, Sassari 2013

How to get
From Cagliari: from the SS 130, at km 44, turn right up to Carbonia (SP2). Once in Villamassargia, turn right up to km 57 for the SS126 state road (direction Sant'Antioco); after about 800 m, turn right to Monte Sirai Archaeological Park. The road continues along the side of the mountain to the summit plateau. The Park has accommodation facilities, with an on-site ticket office and bookshop, and ample parking.

Structure category: archaeological area or park

Content type: Archaeological complex

Usability: Open

Province: Sud Sardegna

Common: Carbonia

Macro Territorial Area: South Sardinia


Address: SS 126, km. 17, località Monte Sirai

Telephone: +39 0781 1888256 +39 345 7559751





Information on tickets and access: Opening hours are subject to change. It is advisable to consult the website: Restrictions on access to the archaeological area: it is forbidden to climb, sit or lean on the wall remains; it is forbidden to collect, move or remove stones, ceramic fragments or other materials; smoking is prohibited in the archaeological area even outdoors.

Access mode: For a fee

Tickets :

  • Integer : 6 €, from 13 to 65 years, .

  • Reduced : 5 €, children from 6 to 12 years old, school classes, over 65 years old, .

  • Cumulative integer : 10 €, from 13 to 65 years, all the sites of the Carbonia Museum System - SimUC .

  • Reduced cumulative : 9 €, minors under 6 years old, disabled people, carers, Superintendency, ICOM members, all the sites of the Carbonia Museum System - SimUC .

  • Freeware : 0 €, minors under 6 years old, disabled people, carers, Superintendency, ICOM members, .

Services information: Reservations are recommended for guided tours, especially on weekends.


22/4/2024 - 00:34


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