The hypogeal necropolis of Sa Figu, Ittiri (Sassari-Sardinia-Italy) 




The prehistoric and protohistorical hypogeal necropolis of Sa Figu is located in the northern side of the Coros plateau, north-east from the Ittiri village (Sassari-Sardinia-Italy) very close to another important necropolis of rock-cut tombs so-called “domus de janas” (meaning Houses of the Fairies in the local language): the Ochila necropolis. As it concerns the chronologic sequence of Sardinian pre-history we make reference to the Chronological Table.


In 1962 the presence of four tombs in this area, which were previously violated, was reported by E. Contu. The excavations of tombs labelled as I and III brought to light materials of the Middle Bronze age. Starting from 2001, new archaeological excavations were undertaken which have so far involved tombs II, IV, V, VIII, IX, X and the near "megalithic circle".


Thus, the hypogeic necropolis of Sa Figu currently includes 11 existing tombs and only traces of some others destroyed. At least six phases of use followed one another in this funerary area, starting from the neolithic period and ending with later sporadic reuse during the Roman age.


In the first period, corresponding to the excavation of the "domus de janas" hypogea, which is dated back to the Late Neolithic age (during the “Ozieri culture”), tombs I, II, III, VI, IX, X and XI were likely realized.


In the second period, corresponding to the Copper age, analogously to what happened in other Sardinian “domus de janas", the hypogeic tombs of Sa Figu were again used as burial grave, without any meaningful change in the funerary rite.


The third phase of the necropolis use involves the Early Bronze age, with the latest moment of the local “Bonannaro Culture” (so-called "Sant'Iroxi" phase): evident traces of this period emerged during the excavation of tomb IX.


Nevertheless, the most interesting monumental aspect is represented by the fourth occupation phase of the area, which is occurring at the beginning of nuragic era (Middle Bronze age I and II, 1700-1300 B. C.). In this period, the so-called “giant tombs” appear in the centre-northern Sardinia, which are characterized by orthostatic structures and arched steles in the middle of the ceremonial exedra. In the north-western side of Sardinia, within a restricted area, this kind of giant tomb has been mainly excaved in limestone rocks, thus providing hypogeic funerary rooms (called hypogea with “architectural prospect”). This was frequently done reusing previous domus de janas. In the necropolis of Sa Figu the evidence suggests that three pre-existing domus de janas (tombs II, III and VI) were enlarged and transformed into “domus with architectural prospect”, with the addition in the frontal façade of the typical elements of the giant tombs: arched stele ("stele centinata"), semicircular hexedra and upper tumulus. Conversely, tombs IV, V, VII and VIII were excaved ex-novo.  


The fifth phase of the necropolis use is relevant to sporadic uses in the Late Nuragic period (Late Bronze age and First Iron Age), X-VII century B. C.


The final period of necropolis use is ascribed to the Roman age.


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