The nuraghe: an emblem of Sardinia
The nuraghe, a stone monument that, due to its size and preservation, is unrivaled throughout the Western Mediterranean, is without a doubt one of the emblems of Sardinia.
This happens because in Sardinia the presence of nuraghi is one every three square kilometers. Since the last census, they are between 7000 and 8000 and we can hypothesize that in ancient times the territory was littered with over 20,000 towers, of various dimensions and architectural complexities.
As for the name, there are several theories.
The origin of the name
The most shared attribute to the root nur- the meaning of both “pile” and “cavity”, which is essentially the description of the same nuraghe: a pile of stones with a cavity in the center.
Another hypothesis would refer to the Phoenician root nur- which means “fire”, thus indicating a dwelling of fire or a temple of fire, in relation to presumed rites. In fact, if you place yourself inside the closed chamber of a nuraghe and burn a sheet of newspaper, it will be sucked upwards by the gigantic megalithic mantle, just like the smoke of a chimney.
Complex buildings with a mysterious function
It is precisely their function the greatest mystery that the nuraghe constitute.
Were they military fortresses? Of the temples? Or astronomical observatories?
For a long time it was thought that they had a military function, as each nuraghe is visible from the next, can communicate through the fire and then defend the population. But it is hard to believe that such complex buildings had only one purpose in the life of the nuraghe.
A recent theory in fact, sees the nuraghe as a religious temple intended for the cult of the dead. This is due to some bone findings inside.
Another hypothesis would see these monuments as astronomical observatories arranged according to solar, lunar and astral criteria.
In fact, the entrances of many towers are aimed at the azimuths of sunrise and sunset of particularly bright stars such as Sirius and Rigel. Others instead towards the constellation of the Southern Cross and the Centaur; the latter are thought to be very important for the civilizations that once lived in the Mediterranean, as they would have been the seat of the healing deities and also venerated by the nuraghic populations.
Needless to say, these mysterious buildings have emanated their fascination for thousands of years on the populations of the territory and on many scholars and lovers of art and history.