Nuragic Sculptures of Monte Prama in Sardinia
The Nuragic civilization dominated Sardinia for centuries, from the Bronze Age (1800 BC) to the 2nd century AD. The name derives from its most characteristic monuments, the nuraghe, consisting of tower-fortresses, and even today some 7,000 nuraghes can be seen in the Sardinian landscape. Another element in the Nuragic culture were sculptures such as those found in 1974 in a field at Monte Prama in western Sardinia.
These 5178 stone fragments, equivalent to 9140 kg, were excavated by the Archaeological Superintendence of Cagliari. Their substantial quantity (25 standing figures, 13 models), dimensions (2 meters in height, 300 kg in weight) and quality make them one of the most important archaeological collections unearthed in the whole western Mediterranean region. Out of the 5178 fragments, 1202 were reassembled into 5 archers, 4 warriors, 16 boxers and 13 nuraghe models. The project was a multidisciplinary effort aimed at bringing together conservation, museology, public engagement, community involvement and communication on a regional, national and international level.
The Centre for Archaeological Conservation in Rome carried out the project for the conservation, restoration and exhibition of the sculptures on the initiative and under the responsibility of the Archaeological Superintendence of Sassari and Nuoro at the Regional Centre, in application of the framework agreement between the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Cultural Activities and the Autonomous Region of Sardinia.
The Jury were intrigued by the complexity of this restoration project, and impressed by its significance in developing our understanding of this under-appreciated culture. The jigsaw puzzle of reassembling the pieces, without any deep penetration of the original stone, and avoiding the use of drills or insertion of different materials, allows for the possibility of modifications and additions in the future on the images of the statues. All the restoration operations have been realized openly, with the opportunity for the public to visit the on-going works. The importance for the local population is clear, and enhances their identity with people who have preceded them on this big island.