Details and description
If you are interested in the history of the island, and want to explore the customs and traditions of the ancient civilisations that once lived here, you should definitely visit the MAB Ferruccio Barreca Archaeological Museum.
It is one of Italy’s most important museums, particularly because of the number and variety of exhibits from the time of the Phoenician and Punic civilisations. This unique collection consists solely of artifacts found on the island of Sant’Antioco, through which one can explore the history of a land dating back to the ancient Mediterranean, with its links between disparate peoples and cultures.
A journey through history
The oldest finds relate to the time the island was first settled at the end of the Neolithic Age, and to the vibrant culture that flourished here during the golden age of Sardinian history: the Nuragic period.
There are unique finds from the oldest Phoenician settlement in Sardinia, established between the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 8th century B.C., with evidence of its important trading links with much of the Mediterranean. There are many interactive displays, including virtual reality experiences that take you on a real journey back in time. A very interesting section focuses on the Punic period and takes us into the world of the supernatural, with a belief system made up of divinities, ritual practices, cultural influences and collective memories. A separate section is dedicated to the Tophet, with a reconstruction of the thousands of urns found on the site.
The ancient Phoenician cemetery for children
The Tophet is a sacred burial ground, dating back to the Phoenician and Punic civilisations and used from the 8th to the 3rd century B.C. It gives one a strong sense of the religious and magical beliefs that surrounded the ancient rituals of these peoples.
The site contains a large number of urns, some of which held the charred bones of creatures such as lambs or small birds, while others held the cremated remains of infants and young children. These little infants, not yet initiated into public life, were entrusted to the special protection of the gods Tanit and Baal Hammon. The urns were carefully placed into natural cavities in the rock, and accompanied by stone steles carved with human and animal images: symbols of the complex rituals practised in this sacred area.