Sanctuaries and the Emergence of Elites in Nuragic Sardinia during the Early Iron Age (ca. 950–720 bc)

The Actualization of a ‘Ritual Strategy’


  • Nicola Ialongo Sapienza - Università di Roma



Sardinia, Nuragic, sanctuaries, ritual, Early Iron Age


During the Early Iron Age (ca. 950–720 bc) Nuragic Sardinia experienced the rise of monumental public sanctuaries. This study addresses the formation of the votive record in sanctuaries in order to explore the relationship between socio-economic control and the ritual dynamics of legitimation of authority. In Nuragic sanctuaries, large amounts of wealth were collected in the form of significant accumulations of bronze objects. The accumulation of metal objects in sanctuaries probably reflects a model of elite-controlled wealth redistribution. It is argued that the rise of sanctuaries is part of a planned ‘ritual strategy’, put in action by Nuragic elites, in order to pursue ideological legitimation to their claims for hegemony. The subject is set within a proposal of a general redefinition of the Nuragic Early Iron Age, making it possible to propose a contextualization of the local phenomenon within the contemporary western Mediterranean framework.

Author Biography

  • Nicola Ialongo, Sapienza - Università di Roma
    Nicola Ialongo received his PhD from Sapienza University of Rome in 2011, with a thesis on Nuragic sanctuaries, and is currently Fellow Worker in the same University. He is now developing a research project on Mediterranean protohistoric sanctuaries. His research interests include lakeside settlement systems of Protohistoric central Italy, and he has published a book on the protohistoric settlement in the Fucino Plain, Abruzzo (Il Fucino nella protostoria, Grandi contesti e problemi della protostoria italiana 10; Florence: Edizioni all’insegna del Giglio, 2007). In recent years, he has taken part in a field project involving the excavation of several Nuragic sites in the territory of Bonorva (SS), under the joint direction of A. Boninu (Soprintendenza of Sassari and Nuoro) and A. Vanzetti (Sapienza University of Rome). He is currently involved in two field projects: the Enotrian site of Broglio di Trebisacce (Calabria; director: A. Vanzetti) and the Final Bronze Age Protovillanovan settlement and cult place of Monte Cimino (southern Etruria; directors: A. Cardarelli, F. Trucco).






How to Cite

Ialongo, N. (2013). Sanctuaries and the Emergence of Elites in Nuragic Sardinia during the Early Iron Age (ca. 950–720 bc): The Actualization of a ‘Ritual Strategy’. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 26(2), 187-209.