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#stories from the Archaeological Museum of Cagliari. Episode 66

Welcome back to our virtual tour among the finds of the Archaeological Museum of Cagliari.
Today we will show you some finds from the necropolis of San Giorgio in Portoscuso up close.

The site was found by chance in 1990, during some works for the construction of a purification plant, which damaged and almost completely destroyed part of the burials. It is a small necropolis with cremation tombs, according to the funerary ritual prevalent in the Phoenician age. The ashes of the deceased were kept inside reused transport wine amphorae and placed inside a lithic cyst, that is a small pit dug in the ground and covered with stone slabs on the bottom and on the walls and closed by a lid always in Stone.

The use of wine amphorae is certainly not accidental, but is linked to the ideology of the banquet and the ritual consumption of wine within funeral ceremonies. St. George’s amphorae show wine cups as lids to further strengthen this ritual bond.

The grave goods consisted of bilobed jugs, linked to the offering of wine and jugs with a mushroom rim, containers of balms and perfumed oils with which the body of the deceased was sprinkled. In some burials there were also other vases, silver and bronze jewels and iron weapons, evidence of the burial of adult males.

We have no information regarding the town to which this small necropolis must have referred. According to some, the settlement must have been nearby, as was usually the case, according to others the necropolis of San Giorgio was connected to Monte Sirai (Carbonia) and in particular to the Phoenician presences within the Sirai nuraghe. Certainly San Giorgio is, in the current state of knowledge, the oldest Phoenician necropolis in Sardinia, born out of the need to give burial to “a nucleus of Phoenicians that we could consider the pioneers of sedentarization”.

It is no coincidence, however, that the oldest Phoenician city in Sardinia is Sulci (Sant’Antioco), also located at the entrance to the Sulcis metalliferous basin, an area clearly of great interest for oriental merchants.

Let’s go back to our finds and in particular to the jugs with a mushroom rim (expanded circular rim) which show a shape with a globular body and tubular neck, unknown on the island until now, while it is known in other parts of the Mediterranean especially in the east. This element, together with the surface of the vases that have a red slip (the so-called red-slip) of considerable quality, leads to consider them from direct oriental imports, dating the necropolis even to a phase prior to the first settlement of Sulci, and therefore antecedent the mid-eighth century BC, i.e., 750 BC.

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