Admire the Phoenician City of
Monte Sirai

Photographs by David Donnini

Monte Sirai is an archaeological site near Carbonia, in the province of South Sardinia. It's a settlement built at the top of a hill by the Phoenicians. Given the excellent location of the hill, the site was inhabited since the neolithic age. Some nuragic towers witness an important anthropization in the first half of the II millennium BC. The first Phoenician records date back to 730 BC. The town is built around the so-called mastio, a sacred place that undergone several renovations, perhaps with defensive function. The discovery of a statue of the goddess Astarte or Ashtoreth (now in the National Museum of Cagliari), discovered in 1964, confirms a use of religious type. The town was affected by the Carthaginian conquest in the 6th century BC. A dozen new families settled subsequently in Monte Sirai, as witnessed by many hypogeum-tombs of Punic types; the rite of cremation, prevalent during the Phoenician period, was substituted by the entombment. The city wall was strengthened around 375 BC, roughly the period of appearance of the first local tophet. A subsequent restoration of the fortifications was carried out after the First Punic War; under the Roman rule all the military facilities were dismantled. Around 110 BC the site was inexplicably abandoned. Subsequent frequentations are witnessed by some Constantinian era coins found in the tophet area.

Admiring Monte Sirai from the sky: