The first traces of Human settlements date back to the Neolithic period. Pre Nuragic architecture such as Menhir and Domus de Janas spread extensively, while the Nuragic period brought on the development of the ‘Giants’Tombs’ and the typical stone towers present all over the island.
The oldest evidence of the rich archaeological heritage of the province of Oristano consists of the Nuraghe Losa in the Abbasanta area and the Santa Cristina nuraghes found in the Paulilatino area.
The Nuraghe (14th-13th century B.C.), which has yet to be completely excavated, demonstrates the typical “a tholos” (beehive tombs) structure, which unusually lack an inner coutryhard, connected to three towers by a wall.
The complex at Santa Cristina features a nuragic village and a sacred well that dates back to the 11th century B.C., and has a concourse, trapezoidal steps and a burial chamber, making it one of the most stunning examples of Sardinian prehistoric architecture.
The ruins of the Phoenician city of Tharros on the peninsula of Sinis date back to the 9th-8th centuries B.C and two cremation cemetery grounds still stand there. Conquered by Carthaginians for its strategic position, Tharros was subject to great political and urban developmnet, as demonstrated by the wealth of burial artefacts excavated there.
Later, the Romans built the city walls, a temple with Doric columns carved in local stone, the tetrastyle temple overlooking the sea and two thermal baths, one of which was later uses as a Paleochristian baptistery.
The Giants of Mont’e Prama are nuragic sculptures. They were found, broken into numerous fragments , in 1974 in the locality Mont’e Prama in Sinis of Cabras.
They are carved in local sandstone and their height varies between 2 and 2,5 meters. The recomposed sculptures are 38: 5 archers, 4 warriors, 16 pugilists and 13 nuraghe models.
St.Salvatore is the most interesting religious hamlet on Sardinia. In the 17th century the church of St. Salvatore was built on a pre-existing hypogeic sanctuary where the waters had been worshipped for many centuries.
To enter the building an opening into the floor of the church takes one to a staircase dug inside the rock. Along the corridor there are five chambers of Nuragic origin, created inside the rock, while in the apse a sacred well can be found along with several Punic, Arabic and Greek inscriptions, and also some Roman painting.
Othoca, the former name of today’s Santa Giusta (8th century B.C.), is also a Phoenician origin. Its necropolis can be viewed: after a decline during the Punic Era, the city was once again developed by the Romans who built roads and bridges like “su pontixeddu” on the river Palmas, abandoned during the Middle Age.
The city of Cornus in the territory of Cuglieri (6th century B.C.) has Punic roots and is the location of epic battles fought between the Sardinians (led by Ampsicora and his son Iosto) and the Romans.
The acropolis of Cornus, as well as its city walls and burial chambers carved from local stone, can be visited. Not far from there, stand the ruins of Columbaris, a Paleochristian religious centre with a necropolis and three basilicas. Sarcophagi and a baptismal font can still be seen.
The spa of Fordongianus (Foum Traiani 1st century B.C.) is from the Roman Era and its naturally warm and healing waters were used by the community. Aside from the calidarium (hotroom), tiepidarium(warmroom) and the frigidarium (coldroom), the large pool, with traces of mosaics and a small sacred area dedicated to mymphs, can also be admired.
At 81 meters a.s.l. stands the Castle of Serravalle, commonly known as Castle of Malaspina. The whole complex is 2000 square meters wide and was built in 1112. It occupies an acre, within which stands the castle itself.
A trip to the Archaelogical Park at Suni should also be made. It features the Nureddeo Nuraghe, the “Chirisconis” domus de janas hypogeic tomb necropolis, the “Seneghe” nuraghe corridor and the “Tiu Virgilio” ethno-anthropological museum in the Planargia region.
Laconi is also important from an archaelogical viewpoint. The museum of the Statue Menhir hosts approximately forty slabs carved in trachyte found in the area and belonging to different typologies.
The Nuraghe are a type of megalithic construction. They have a truncated cone shape and can be found throughout the island. The Nuraghi are unique and representative of nuragic civilization, therefore they are considered distinctive elements of Sardinia.
They were built with large blocks of stones which are more or less squared, arranged one over the other, and they may be formed from a single tower or several. The most classic ones are those with a single tower shaped like a truncated cone.
In the province of Oristano you can find them in the villages of Abbasanta, Aidomaggiore, Albagiara, Bauladu, Ghilarza, Mogorella, Mogoro, Narbolia, Paulilatino, Santulussurgiu, San Vero Milis, Scano Montiferro, Sedilo, Seneghe, Siris, Soddi, Suni, Uras, Villanova Truschedu e Villa Verde.
Some Nuraghes stand isolated, others are surrounded or connected to each other by a system of boundary walls that enclose the remains of huts, so that they look like a village. In the province of Oristano you can find them in Villa Verde, Genoni and Paulilatino.
The holy wells are nuragic sites dedicated to the worship of water. These places give testimony to the great importance that ancient Sardinian people contributed to the springs and their deeply religious feelings.
It is possible to find many of them around the island and they can be very different from each other. The most common type is a circular well made of square stone blocks. A staircase goes down from the entrance to the water level of the well.
In the province of Oristano holy wells can be found in the villages of Cabras, Gonnosnò, Mogoro, Paulilatino and Villa Verde.
The menhirs are large stones stuck vertically in the ground, roughly shaped or carved, often tapered towards the top. Their size can vary considerably and they can reach a height of about 5 meters.
The menhirs can be found singularly or as part of a group of similar stones. They originate from many different periods throughout pre-history.
In the province of Oristano Menhirs can be found in the area around the villages of Laconi, Paulilatino, Tresnuraghes and Villa Sant’Antonio.
Domus de Janas are a type of pre-historic burial structures carved into the rock.
They can be found along the whole island, both isolated or in high concentrations, consisting of even more than 40 tombs, forming vast necropolises.
They sometimes have an anteroom that overlooks a number of small cells in which the deceased were placed. Some tombs are decorated with carved reliefs and engravings.
In the province of Oristano Domus de Janas can be found in the area around the villages of Abbasanta, Busachi, Cabras, Gonnostramatza, Nughedu Santa Vittoria, Ruinas, Scano Montiferro, Sorradile, Suni and Villa Sant’Antonio.
Giant’s graves are funerary monuments, consisting of collective burials which belong to the Nuragic Age and are present throughout Sardinia.
They are buildings with a rectangular apse and are composed by a long burial chamber built with monoliths of large stones embedded in the ground and covered with slabs arranged horizontally.
The most particular part is definitely the facade.
In the province of Oristano the Giant’s graves are located in the villages of Abbasanta, Narbolia, Paulilatino,Sedilo, Seneghe and Tresnuraghes.
Dolmen are a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of two or more stones embedded in the ground supporting one or more large flat horizontal capstone (flat arch or lintel).
In the province of Oristano Dolmen can be found in the following villages: Laconi and Tresnuraghes.