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The Tharros archaeological site is an open-air museum on the western coast of Sardinia 

Wednesday, 16 March 2022 10:26

The Tharros archaeological site is a vast open-air museum on the western coast of Sardinia where you can discover over two millennia of history.

The ruins of the ancient city, founded in the 8th century BC and abandoned in the 11th century AD,  are in the southern part of the Sinis peninsula, in the municipality Cabras, just a few kilometres from the coastal city of Oristano. This open air museum is a natural amphitheatre overlooking the sea and bordered by the isthmus of Capo San Marco and by the hills of San Giovanni di Sinis and su Murru Mannu, on top of which you find ancient remains of a Nuragic village. 

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Two Phoenician necropolises and ancient walls

There are also remains of two Phoenician necropolises and the Tophet which is a cemetery where urns containing the cremated remains of babies and sacrificial animals were once placed. Thousands of artifacts of funerary objects were found in the tombs in the necropolises including ceramics, jewels, amulets and scarabs. Under Punic rule, the districts of Tharros, including the artisan area specialized in iron metallurgy in Montiferru, spread out across terraces on the hills of San Giovanni, where the defensive walls of the fortified city begin. 

Ancient temples with Egyptian influences

The temple built here was partially dismantled in the Imperial Age and a new sanctuary, one of the many the Romans added to the city, was built. In Temple K, consisting of a portico and an altar with an Egyptian groove frame, we can see the reuse of two blocks with engraved Semitic letters, pertinent to a probable (pre-existing) Temple of Punic Inscriptions.

You can imagine what life was like here 2000 years ago

The city was transformed over time to an orthogonal plan with regular paved streets and an impressive, articulated sewage system. Walking down these streets today you can clearly imagine what people’s lives were like here two thousand years ago. In pride of place they built three thermal plants close to the sea. In the early Middle Ages parts of the baths became Byzantine burial areas while others were transformed into an early Christian complex including a baptistery (5th-6th century AD) and a sanctuary. 

Parts of the ancient Roman aqueduct are still standing

You can still admire parts of the Roman aqueduct, in particular the castellum aquae, a distribution tank divided into three naves by pillars in the city centre.   After the 19th-century scientific excavations, investigations resumed in the mid-20th century and they continue today, bringing to light new finds on this extraordinary site.   

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