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Water and cults in Nuragic Sardinia

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Nuragic Sardinia is the only Italian region where later prehistoric standing monuments identified specifically as cult buildings have survived. In fact, the many monumental cult complexes, built during the Final Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age, which were often related to rituals that implied the use of water, are the most visible expressions of Nuragic religious behaviors. The most common category is undoubtedly that directly linked to water cult activity, sacred wells, and springs, architectural features that give access to surface water or underground aquifers. The variety of monuments attested is particularly rich and varied, including not only sacred wells and springs but also rectangular‐plan buildings (so‐called megaron temples), straight and curvilinear plan buildings, and purely circular ones, with or without vats. Water sanctuaries are the places where Nuragic religiosity was performed and the power and wealth of Nuragic communities, were shown through the monumentality of structures, the elaborate stone decorations, and the presence of exclusive built‐in stone furniture and votive offerings. In fact, these sanctuaries are complexes articulated in structures of different types and sizes where large amounts of wealth, mainly tools, ornaments, weapons, and bronze figurines were accumulated as offerings. This article is categorized under: Human Water > Water as Imagined and Represented
Sardinia, sacred wells and springs map distribution. In black principal sites mentioned in the paper: 1. Predio Canopolo—Perfugas; 2. Monte Sant'Antonio—Siligo; 3. Nule; 4. Su Tempiesu—Orune; 5. Sa Sedda ’e Sos Carros—Oliena; 6. Abini—Teti; 7. Su Monte—Sorradile; 8. Santa Cristina—Paulilatino; 9. Sa Osa—Cabras; 10. S'Arcu ’e Is Forros—Villagrande Strisaili; 11. Santa Vittoria—Serri; 12. Sant'Anastasia—Sardara; 13. Funtana Coberta—Ballao
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Duplicate of rhyolite's vat with nuraghe model from the nuragic sanctuary of Su Monte—Sorradile (a); Andesite slab with bronze figurine's feet fixed from the nuragic sanctuary of Abini—Teti (author's photos)
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Plan (a) and elevation (b and c) of the sacred spring of Su Tempiesu‐Orune (reworked version after Depalmas, )
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Plan (a) and section (b) of the sacred wells of Sant'Anastasìa—Sardara (1), Predio Canopolo‐Perfugas (2), Funtana Coberta‐Ballao (3) (reworked version after Depalmas, )
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Side view of the tholos shape of Santa Cristina—Paulilatino (reworked version after Hermon et al., )
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Aerial view of the cult complex of Santa Cristina‐Paulilatino (by Paulilatino Municipality)
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