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2017 excavations at the Basilica di Sant'Antioco of Bisarcio in Ozieri, Sardinia

Findings that attest to the human presence since the 7th century BC have emerged in the archaeological area of Bisarcio (Sardinia), where in recent days the sixth excavation campaign led by the director of the Department of History of the University of Sassari Marco Milanese ended, as part of a long project involving the Municipality and Superintendence.

2017 excavations at the Basilica di Sant'Antioco of Bisarcio in Ozieri, Sardinia
La Nuova Sardegna Photo
This season's work has helped shed even more light on the site's architectural features, starting with excavations on the episcopal and cemetery areas, which date back to the Middle Ages, and providing stunning discoveries. The most interesting feature that emerged from the campaign is the presence in the mid-14th century of a garrison of soldiers to defend the bishop, an element that provides a direct testimony for the climate of political and institutional and economic instability in this area and in the entire island at the end of the Judicial Period.

The presence of the garrison has emerged from the discovery of fragments of swords and chain mail, but also from the discovery of gaming pieces, the pastime of guard soldiers. Important testimonies were also found regarding the diet of residents, with the discovery of bones of both farmed and wild animals: in particular deer and venison, an element that illustrates the presence of wooded areas nearby.

At the same time, there are also finds that bear witness to the restoration work carried out in the episcopal area two centuries after the construction of the basilica and which were made with poorer materials in contrast to the large square stones with which the site was originally built, evidence of the reduced economic resources of the bishopric from its foundation to the fourteenth century.

2017 excavations at the Basilica di Sant'Antioco of Bisarcio in Ozieri, Sardinia
La Nuova Sardegna Photo
Another important element was the discovery that the so-called rectory, the bishop's hall discovered two years ago, actually had two floors, connected by a stone staircase used by residents and guests and by a wooden staircase for servants. Elements that testify to that a throng of people had gathered around the bishopric, revealing a vivacity that had hitherto remained unknown.

It is estimated that at least 600 people lived here, as evidenced by the discovery in the adjacent cemetery of bodies of very young children (0-3 years old) buried in wooden coffins: an element that demonstrates not only the presence of families but is also an important testimony on the mindset of the villagers, who showed particular care and sensitivity in the burial of children even during a period of high infant mortality.

These are just some of the innovative elements of the excavation that has really led to extraordinary discoveries this year, and has done so also thanks to the use of state-of-the-art technologies (resulting from funding by the Sardinia Foundation) such as the analysis that led to the identification of Etruscan pottery dating back to the 7th century BC that has dated the human presence at this site - and therefore its importance - much earlier than expected. These elements will be at the centre of future projects to enhance the site in terms of dissemination and tourism, as well as scientific.

Source: La Nuova Sardegna [October 05, 2017]

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