Sant’Antioco – Phoenician- Punic period

After the Nuragic period, the Sardinia was influenced by Phoenician civilisation situated on the East Mediterranean coastal part where now we can find Lebanon, Israel, Gaza and Syria and Punic civilization from North Africa.

Sant’antioco, at the time called Sulki, is dated back to 800 B.C. and it is the ancientest city in Sardinia and probably the ancientest in Italy.

The most important place of this period that it is possible to visit in Sant’Antioco are:


Today we can visit one of most important e biggest Necropolis around the Mediterranean.


Necropolis under Forte Sabaudo de Su Pisu

This area over 6 hectares was dated around the V and III century B.C. and it is possible that the number of Hypogeums was around 1500 units. From this data, it was estimated the population of Sulky was around 9000-10000 units.

There are two different areas for the Necropolis, that one under the Forte Sabaudo de Su Pisu whit 40 Hypogeum and the other inside the underground of Sant’Antioco Basilica where punic tombs became Christian Catacombs.


Catacombs in Sant’Antioco


It is possible to arrive at the Necropolis and Catacombs by walking inside Sant’Antioco.


Location of Necropolis and Catacombe in Sant’Antioco



The Tophet was used between the VIII and I century B.C., it is an open space where were found around 3000 urns that contain bones remain of children.  For a long time, we thought that it was the result of a sacrificial rite. Today we know that those children died from natural causes and it was Roman propaganda against Punic.


Tophet with urns


It is possible to arrive at the tophet by walking inside Sant’Antioco.


Location of Tophet in Sant’Antioco

The Museum of Byssus

Byssus is a silk that comes from the sea used in the ancient period by power men such us the Salomon king or pharaohs. It is a long, fine, silky threads secreted by the large Mediterranean pen shell, Pinna nobilis.

Today there is just a few people around the world that are holding the ancient knowledge to realise this particular silk. One of these is Chiara Vigo from Sant’Antioco, candidate for UNESCO Immaterial Heritage of Humanity.



Chiara Vigo weaving the Byssus




Byssus wove by Chiara Vigo


Between the tourists inside the museum, Chiara Vigo chooses the youngest woman in the room to give her a present, a byssus thread.  Vigo starts a ritual tieing the thread on the finger of young girl promising her that when she will come back to the museum before to get marriage or before the birth of her child, she will receive another present embroidered with byssus.



Rytual with byssus


It is possible to arrive at Byssum Museum by walking inside Sant’Antioco.

Location of Byssum museum in Sant’Antioco

Next episode – Roman period!

Simone Mastrogiacomo



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