Sardinia – Island of Megaliths

01.07.2021 to 03.10.2021
Neues Museum

The Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte at the Neues Museum is the first European stop for a major exhibition that focuses on the culture of Sardinia’s ancient megaliths, in particular those of the Nuragic culture. 

After Berlin, this international show will continue on its way, making stops at the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, the National Archaeological Museum in Thessaloniki and the MANN – National Archaeological Museum in Naples. It presents museum-goers with the histories, material artefacts, and the fascinating and unique landscapes and civilisations of the ancient megalithic cultures of Sardinia, which continue to present scholars with all kinds of puzzling questions. 

Sardinia – An Island in the Middle of the Mediterranean

Sardinia is an island in the middle of the Mediterranean, which today is recognised by scholars around the world as having played a central role in prehistoric and early-historical contacts between civilisations, both within the “Mare Nostrum” (the Tyrrhenian Sea) and in terms of relationships with Middle and Northern Europe and the Levant. On this island, cultures and civilisations evolved thousands of years ago which have left behind unique, monumental structures and ruins that continue to mark the Sardinian landscape. 

The Search for the True History of Sardinia’s Ancient Civilisations

The exhibition provides an overview of the current scholarly understanding of the history of Sardinia’s ancient civilisations, by way of important loans from the archaeological museums of Cagliari, Nuoro and Sassari, and through detailed pedagogical and multimedia aids, scale models and 3D reconstructions, which allow visitors to explore in detail the historical and geographical context of the exhibition. 

Sardinia as a Cultural Landscape: Megalithism

Megalithism – the practice of erecting architectural structures out of massive stones – is the overarching theme around which the history of Sardinia is arranged in this exhibition. This cultural practice marked the island over a long period, from the Neolithic Age through to the Bronze and Iron Ages, and is still inscribed in the Sardinian landscape today – through the traces left behind by the Nuragic civilisation, particularly the roughly 8,000 towers known as “nuraghes”. 

The Nuragic Culture: Formative for the History of Sardinia

The exhibition revolves around the Domus de Janas – tombs from the Neolithic Age and the Copper Age – and the iconic statuettes of “Mother Goddess”, a number of which are true artistic masterpieces. The Nuragic culture was central to the Bronze Age on the island in diverse ways: through the collective burial sites known as “giants’ tombs”, through their contact with far-off civilisations and their remarkable Nuragic bronze statuettes depicting women, men, warriors and animals. 

The exhibition features votive swords, scale models of buildings and ships, and the unusual, imposing Mont’e Prama warriors: representations of a mythic past situated in the heyday of the Nuragic age, but which continued to be produced well into the Iron Age. Additionally, the exhibition analyses how the traces of this culture were preserved even after Sardinia was conquered by the Carthaginians in the late 6th century BC and the subsequent arrival of the Romans. 

Sardinia – Island of Megaliths is a special exhibition by the Office for Tourism, Handcrafts and Commerce of the region of Sardinia, in collaboration with the National Archaeological Museum of Cagilari, the Regional Directorate of Museums of Sardinia, the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, the National Archaeological Museum in Thessaloniki and the National Archaeological Museum in Naples (MANN). The exhibition is under the patronage of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI)  and the Italian Ministry of Culture (MIC), in collaboration with the Fondazione di Sardegna. The organisation and overall coordination was assumed by the Villaggio Globale International.

A special exhibition of the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

James-Simon-Galerie, Bodestraße
10178 Berlin

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