Serra Orrios Nuragic village
If you want to get an idea of Sardinian Bronze Age daily life (1600 - 700 BC), when the Nuragic culture was at its peak, there is no better place to visit than the village of Serra Orrios. Almost a small town it contains hundreds of buildings including 49 huts with extra animal enclosures; two so-called megaron temples ((Tempietto A and Tempietto B) with their relative enclosures; two megalithic tombs: a further Giant’s tomb has now been lost.
Nuragic communities lived in huts – and similar structures were used by shepherds until a few decades ago. They have a circular base, made up of irregular rows of basalt blocks, covered by a conical roof made of tree trunks and branches. The floor was made of stone slabs, cobbles or just simply beaten earth whilst in the walls there were niches (cupboards) to keep tools and equipment. Cork and clay was used to isolate the hut and keep it dry and in the centre of the room not far from the entrance (to help it draw) was placed the fireplace: a simple circular hollow surrounded by stones. All in all, a simple structure but one guaranteed to satisfy the needs of Nuragic people.
The blocks and the meeting hut
Most of the huts were organised into groups made up of several rooms built around a courtyard with a common well. Hut no. 49, however, was different. This has been baptised as the “Meeting Hut” for the benches placed around the wall and the entrance preceded by a vestibule made of large blocks suggesting that it was used to carry out public or ceremonial activities.
The two small temples
One of the most characteristic aspects of Serra Orrios is the presence of two so-called Megaron temples (the term can be transcribed as “the biggest and most sumptuous room of the Mycenaean palaces”) both with a double antis (the walls of the longest side extend forward past the entrance) with the vestibule and room containing stone benches along the walls. These megaron temples were likely dedicated to a water cult and the architecture probably had foreign influences, perhaps inspired by Mycenaean architecture.
Pottery, jewellery and weapons: the village economy
A wealth of finds have been discovered by archaeologist – on display at the Dorgali Archaeological museum – all of which has given us much insight into life in the village – from the mid- Bronze (1600 – 1300 BC) to the Iron Age (900 - 700 BC), with most pertaining to the Recent and Final Bronze Ages (1300 - 900 BC) – which was based on agriculture, raising livestock and crafts such as working wood, stone, leather and metal. The ceramic material is especially impressive: comb decorated cooking pans, storage and cooking jars with reversed elbow handles, carinated cups piriform vases, askoid jugs with geometric and fishbone decorations and impressed circles and false cord decorations and enormous food storage containers that demonstrate the importance of agriculture. Other interesting materials are the portable cooking ‘hobs’ the pintaderas (stamps for decorating bread or cloth), a dipper for liquids and a scoop for flour or cereal. Working cloth was important as testified by the many spindle-whorls, bobbins and loom weights found.
Amongst the stone finds note the three smoothers (one in a green coloured stone) for working leather, grinders, burnishers for burnishing metal, sharpeners and a soapstone mould used in metal working; stone working was also practiced (shown by a smoothed stone and a flint blade). Metal remains comprise a pair metalworking pincers, weapons (four daggers), tools (two axes and a scalpel) as well as ornaments (pins, bracelets, earrings etc.). A silver open ellipse shape bracelet with circle decorations is particularly noteworthy. It might have been made locally, using silver from the nearby Sos Enattos mines at Lula.
The site was rediscovered by Doro Levi who excavated there between 1936 and 1938, revealing about 70 of the huts and the two megaron temples. An article by Giovanni Lilliu on the village was published in 1947, followed by an illustrated plan of the site by Ch. Zervos in 1954. The Sassari Archaeological Superintendency restored two of the temples and nearby huts in 1961. A summary of this was published by Ercole Contu the following year. In 1980 with the opening of the Archaeological Museum in Dorgali the results of a study on material from Levi’s 1930s excavations was published. In 1986 temple A was excavated and maintenance work was carried out on the site, results of this were published by Maria Ausilia Fadda in 1993 and 1994. An overview of the site was published by Alberto Moravetti in 1998, which includes a hypothetical reconstruction of the village and megaron temples.