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Su Monte e ape Giants Tomb 
Su Monte e ape Giants Tomb
Olbia

SS [Sassari]

 
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LOCATION: Olbia, North-East Sardinia

HISTORICAL PERIOD: From 1800 to 1100 B.C.

Nuraghic people struck again, giving us more doubts and mysteries. We're talking about the Tombs of Giants: dark megalithic constructions,unique in shape and size, that are scattered throughout the island. So far about 320 have been found, but Sardinia is a continent that uncover itself slowly and we can be sure that its territory is jealously hiding many more Tombs of Giants.
The name of these mysterious monuments comes from ancient popular beliefs and to explain them you have to identify yourself with the populations that, before the flourishing of the archaeological sciences, found themselves in front of these mysterious sights. Try to put yourself in the shoes of those people who were the first to discover these constructions. Imagine being the inhabitants of a land that constantly gives you incredible works from the past. Try to see huge stone slabs stuck in the ground that form weirdly shaped constructions. Won over by the mystery, you'll start to dig at the least. And how surprised would you be if you found hundreds of human bones? And if you found out that they are stripped of flesh, scratched, scraped and consumed, and then looked again at that huge door that dominates the entire megalithic structure, wouldn't it be easy to think that that construction could have been home to enormous ogres, that used to feast on human flesh and then buried the remains? This is how a myth was born: the myth of Giants.

Not far from “Olbia -Costa Smeralda” Airport is the Tomb of Giants “Su Monte de s'ape”. But first let's see what the original structure of one of these nuraghic grave might have looked like. The whole funeral monument was probably covered by a mound of earth and stones. Frontally the construction was delimited by a semicircle (exedra). This was probably the only part that was exposed. In the middle of the exedra was a huge engraved granite stele (4 metres high), with a small opening in its base, probably used as an entrance to the tomb. Inside, the sepulchre was formed by a  funerary chamber that usually was between 5 to 15 metres long and no more than 2 metres high.
As for the sacred wells, what surprises most is the shape of these strange constructions. Viewed from above the construction brings to mind the head of a bull, or the stylization of an uterus, but also that of a pelvis and the limbs of a woman in labour. This is the most fascinating interpretation, because the semicircle shape could really represents human legs with an opening to the netherworld in the middle of it. So life and death for nuraghic people were symbolized in the same way, as a motherly entrance to a world and an exit to another. Birth and death that make us all protagonist of the same fate. Maybe that's one of the reasons why the Tombs of Giants housed collective graves, probably without any class distinction. It's possible that they were used as charnel houses that could contain up to 200 skeletons. The Tombs of Giants were also the ideal places for ancient and mysterious religious ceremonies.

The Tomb of Giants “Su Monte e s'ape” keeps these characteristics. Only a part of the central stele remained and is not on site at the moment. The entire structure is 28 metres long and 6 metres wide, while the sepulchral gallery is more than 10 metres long. Thanks to these measurements, “Su Monte e s'ape” can be considered one of the biggest Tombs of Giants in the island. The construction of this funerary monument, as in many other cases, has gone through different phases. The rectangular shape probably dates back to the pre-nuraghic period (Early Bronze Age: 1800-1600 B.C.), with the use of less carved stones and with the only presence of the funerary chamber. Some of the covering slabs might date back to that period as well. In full nuraghic age (around 1600 B.C.) the construction was modified and embellished with new architectural elements. The exedra-shaped monumental front and the covering of the funerary chamber with an external face probably date back to this period.

HOW TO GET THERE: Take the Olbia-Loiri road, and once you reach 3.3 km go along a path marked by road signs.

 
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