The Neolithic period
The Domus de Janas, enchanted kingdom of the dead
Domus de Janas (“fairy houses” or “witch houses”): this is the name given
in Sardinia to the mysterious underground necropolises that date from
the late-Neolithic period (3500 B.C.). These veritable cities of the dead carved into the rock are the work of advanced peoples concerned with agriculture, hunting, fishing, trade and the extraction of obsidian, as indicated by the numerous engraved ceramic remains that have been found, which provide the basis for our understanding of traditional Sardinian iconography.
These peoples were deeply religious, worshipping the cult of the Mother goddess, the cosmic procreatrix, and the Bull god, her other half.
The rock tombs of Anghelu Ruju
This necropolis, which is named after the owner of the land, is one of the most significant complexes of Domus de Janas on Sardinia.
Located 20 minutes from Alghero, in the “I Piani” district, this complex encompasses a total of 38 rock tombs, of which several are still below ground level.
You enter via a type of well, which affords direct access to the rock wall,
or via a long descending corridor called a “dromos“.
The most prevalent floorplan in the tombs is the T-shape, which – in the most complete version – encompasses (aside from the entrance): an atrium; a chamber where the rites are performed; and the funerary cubicles, which are arranged in a spoke pattern.
A guide is available to help you make the most of your visit to the necropolis.
The hilltop necropolis of Santu Pedru
Another complex of Neolithic rock tombs is located on the stunted hill
of Santu Pedru, on the road that leads to Ittiri.
The hill, which rises suddenly from the plain like the sort of peaks found in Arizona, is riddled with holes, and features a large quantity of small caves carved into
Amongst the better-preserved Domus de Janas, there is one called the Tomb of the Tetrapod Vases in reference to the interesting ceramics discovered there.
Other tombs are located higher up, on the side of the hill: the largest of these
– on the summit – was transformed into a rock church in the Paleochristian period (10th century).