2022 Field Season

In May and June 2022, we held our third full field season with a team of 12 students and archaeologists from 7 universities. After completing our work in Zone A during the 2018 and 2019 seasons, we moved our work to the west into Zone B, the coastal and wetlands territory located west of the Nuragic site of S’Urachi. This zone is known for its numerous small, single-tower nuraghi situated in a landscape of lagoons, agricultural fields, limestone and sandstone bedrock outcrops, and rocky and sandy beaches. Our goal was to begin our pedestrian survey and continue recording sites and features across the zone, adding to our understanding of the human uses of this unique ecological landscape across time.

During this season, we surveyed 229 units across 1.88 square kilometers. These included 220 units in Zone B (1.16 square kilometers) and 9 units in Zone A, filling in a gap around the rural church of San Andrea. This brings our project’s grand total to 693 survey units encompassing 4.3 square kilometers across Zones A and B. We continued using our method of downloading daily satellite imagery to help us locate newly plowed agricultural fields (published here!), which helped us quickly locate areas with high visibility – an important task given the rainy spring and abundant vegetation across Zone B.

Close-up view of the survey units added to Zone B in 2022 showing the distribution of ceramics and the features.
View of the units surveyed in Zone B with the ceramic distributed in shaded colors and features marked with colored dots.

Our preliminary analysis of finds from the pedestrian survey shows a much higher concentration of ancient ceramics in Zone B than in Zone A. These are distributed fairly evenly across the landscape and often concentrated around important known sites such as the Nuraghe Is Araus. Overall, there appears to be much less modern disturbance of the landscape in Zone B than in our previous zone, perhaps because there are fewer industrial farms here. So far, the Punic/Early Roman period and Roman Imperial period are especially well represented in the ceramic assemblage, suggesting an intensification of occupation from around the 4th century BCE here that continued through the 3rd century CE. Future material analysis and additional will help us refine this picture.

We also conducted regional reconnaissance alongside the pedestrian survey in Zone B to document known sites and features as well as those discovered through our survey. This season we recorded 42 new points of interest, bringing our total up to 55 in Zone B. These included numerous small nuraghi, which were typically single-tower constructions of limestone or sandstone with occasional basalt. These seem to be located along routes leading inland as well as around the lagoons, including the large, seasonal Stagno Sale ‘e Porcus. Domus de janus-type tombs and quarries were other common types of ancient features, both of which took advantage of the abundant stone outcrops across Zone B. We also recorded many contemporary sites, including animal pens, field shelters, field boundary walls, historic farmsteads, and berms, which together attest to the continued use of the landscape for pastoralism, agriculture, wetlands exploitation (e.g., salt harvesting, collecting indigenous plants, and fishing).

View of Zone B with recorded features and points of interest marked.

Our work this season has helped to illuminate the differences in occupation and landscape use in antiquity between our inland Zone A and coastal Zone B. Continued work in Zone B next season will help us add additional data to this picture and refine our materials analysis. We look forward to sharing this work! Check out our Publications page for recent and upcoming presentations.