'The Dead are Watching Us': A landscape study of prehistoric rock-cut tomb cemeteries in Ossi, Sardinia, Italy

Guillaume Robin, Florian Soula, Pascal Tramoni, Laura Manca, Kirsty Lilley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The island of Sardinia is well known for its Late Neolithic and Copper Age underground rock-cut tombs that were used over generations for collective burials. Many tombs were decorated to resemble house interiors and cemeteries are often referred to as villages of the dead. Research so far has focused on excavating stratigraphic contexts within some of these monuments, or on typological classifications of tomb plans and wall decorations, but the landscape context of the cemeteries and their relationship to settlements have been overlooked. The article presents the results of two seasons of survey in Ossi (north-west Sardinia), focusing on two major cemeteries (Mesu 'e Montes and S'Adde 'e Asile). Combining fieldwalking, mapping and 3D recording techniques, the survey provides a comprehensive documentation of the cemeteries (from the underground architecture of individual tombs to their landscape setting) and yields evidence of prehistoric settlements in their vicinity. The article discusses the topographic and visual relationships between the tombs and the residential areas and how they may reflect social interactions between the living and the dead in late prehistoric Sardinia.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalProceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Early online date12 Apr 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Apr 2021

Keywords

  • Bronze Age
  • cemetery
  • death
  • hypogea
  • landscape archaeology
  • Neolithic
  • rock-cut tombs
  • Sardinia
  • settlement

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