Water Management, Ritual Ideology, and Environmental Change in Bronze Age Sardinia

Author(s): Emily Holt; Anke Marsh

Year: 2016


The Nuragic culture of Bronze Age Sardinia (c. 1700-900 BCE) is known for building thousands of monumental stone towers called nuraghi throughout the island. However, toward the end of the Bronze Age, Nuragic leaders stopped building nuraghi and instead constructed underground temples over naturally occurring springs. Previous research assumes that this architectural shift took place rapidly in the Final Bronze Age (c. 1175-1020 BCE), representing a sudden rise in the importance of water ritual. Hypotheses accounting for the shift include an increase in the power of Nuragic leaders or a revolution in which religious leaders successfully challenged a military elite. The Pran’e Siddi Landscape Project, which investigates environment and society at a Nuragic settlement system in south-central Sardinia, has uncovered new evidence that water was ideologically important from the beginnings of the Nuragic culture, challenging the assumptions that underlie narratives of late Nuragic social upheaval. Recent fieldwork suggests that water ritual became increasingly linked to ideologies of power from the Middle through the Late Bronze Age. Rather than socio-political change, the developing political potency of water in the Siddi region may have been linked to hydrological changes that altered the locations of water sources and made water's availability appear unpredictable.

Cite this Record

Water Management, Ritual Ideology, and Environmental Change in Bronze Age Sardinia. Emily Holt, Anke Marsh. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405048)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;