History of Sardinia

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Map of Sardinia (around 1700)

The documented history of Sardinia begins in antiquity , but there are extensive traces of older cultures on Sardinia .


Fauna in the Paleolithic

The water level of the Mediterranean has fluctuated strongly since the Miocene , so that Sardinia's island position was temporarily suspended and influences from the mainland are noticeable. Most recently it was around 11,000 BC. 100 m below today's level. Characteristic of island saunas are species poverty and the lack of large carnivores . In non-endangered large mammals, this causes a development to slowness and dwarfism. Island faunas hardly change as long as the balance is not disturbed. Sardinia's older fauna was replaced by a new one in the middle Pleistocene (around 900,000 years ago). But the younger ones also show the species poverty typical of the island. Only found on mammals

The Prolagus sardus , an extinct rabbit-sized rodent, looked like a tailless rat. A report from 1774 shows that it survived on the island of Tavolara until the 18th century.

Grotta Corbeddu

However, the only large mammal, unlike the dwarfed deer, elephants, and hippos on the islands of Crete and Cyprus, was of normal size. To investigate this phenomenon, an excavation began in 1982 in the Grotta Corbeddu (named after the bandit Giovanni Corbeddu Salis ) near Oliena . The excavations revealed three layers of deposits:

  • Bottom layer: bones of the extinct deer Megaceros cazioti , including a well-preserved head with antlers (C14 date: 11610 ± 140 BC). The stag skulls lacked the lower jaws that were elsewhere. Processing marks on the bones indicate the presence of people who hunted on behalf of the predatory mammals and who opposed island dwelling.
  • Middle layer: charcoal (radiocarbon date: 7130 ± 380 BC), bones of the Sardinian pika, Prolagus sardus, with traces of burn and chewing that indicate human influence.
  • Upper layer: ash and charcoal from fireplaces (radiocarbon date: 4280 ± 180 BC) mixed with the remains of sea and land snails, crustaceans, fish, domestic animals, game and Prolagus sardus , furthermore tools made of obsidian and Neolithic pottery shards ( bono- Ighinu ceramics and Cardium ceramics )

The settlement of Sardinia goes back to the Paleolithic . In 1979, human remains were found 150,000 years old. Even at the height of the last ice age, the island was not connected to the mainland. Molecular genetic analyzes suggest that around 13,000 years ago, a population group immigrated from the western Mediterranean region that has genetic similarities to the population of today's Basque Country. This was followed by groups of Neolithic farmers. Due to the isolation of the island, genetic features of a possibly Mesolithic population have been preserved with great frequency to this day. In 2011 the bones of Mesolithic inhabitants of the island were found near Marina di Arbus, dating from around 9000 BC. Come from BC.

From the Neolithic to the Iron Age

Cultural sequence
Sardinian-Corsican type series

The prehistoric Sardinians used obsidian , a lava rock that was extracted from the extinct volcano Monte Arci and used for simple tools. This obsidian also found its way to Corsica , Tuscany , Emilia , Liguria and southern France .

From the Neolithic onwards, which occurred in Sardinia around 6000 BC. Began with the immigration of members of the cardial or imprint culture , until the Roman occupation in 238 BC. B.C. shaped the cultures of Su-Carroppu and Filiestru, the Bono-Ighinu culture , the Ozieri culture , the cultures of Abealzu-Filigosa , or the Bronze Age Monte Claro culture , the Bonnanaro culture , and especially the nuragic culture the image of the island. The Neolithic period brought agriculture and livestock to the island. Evidence is found in mortars and hand mills , grains and bones from domestic animals. Cult and burial caves (Grotta Pirosu), as well as the oven graves of Sinis ( Cuccuru S'Arriu ), and the Domus de Janas (houses of the fairies) were scratched into rock formations.

From around 1600 BC The nuragic culture existed. Today there are still over 3,000 of the 7,000 to 10,000 tower-like nuraghi after which the culture is named. In addition, there are dolmens and galleries such as Corte Noa , giant tombs , menhirs , statue menhirs , stone circles (ortakis) and holy wells , of which there are around 35 , as evidence of the previous cultures . The stone boxes by Li Muri , the Nuraghe temple by Malchittu , the megalithic round gallery tomb Masone Perdu near Laconi and the figures from Monte Prama are unique pieces .

Bronze Age contacts in the eastern Mediterranean

In 1979, Mycenaean ceramics were first discovered in Sardinia. During the 1980s, knowledge of contacts between Sardinia , Mycenaean Greece and the islands in the eastern Mediterranean spread . The results of the excavations at the Nuraghe Antigori increased the interest of researchers in the connection between Sardinia and the Aegean region during the Bronze Age .

The nuragic culture was given a new status in the cultural dynamics of the 2nd millennium BC. The discovery of well- stratified Aegean material in Sardinia refined the chronology of nuragic culture. Aegean archeology opened up a window for research into the activities of Mycenaean culture in the western Mediterranean. The Mycenaean goods aroused also renewed interest in the Aegean-Cypriot oxhide ingot , known previously from various locations of Sardinia. As a result, analyzes of the ceramics and the copper bars were carried out.

The topics also touch on questions of colonization or pre-colonization, which are in the context of the exchange of objects or the use of the island's mineral resources . Long before the Phoenician there was a phase of Mycenaean and Cypriot or Cycladic-Minoan trade in the Mediterranean, which reached the Nuragic culture and other western Mediterranean cultures (Italy, Malta, Sicily). The Mycenaean origin of the materials supports older cultural theoretical models ( diffusionism ), which in the past century saw the construction of the nuraghi under Aegean influence due to their architecture ( tholos ), but new studies have shown that the cultural forms in Bronze Age Sardinia were not under the aspect of of the "Ex Oriente Lux" can be understood. In particular, the sculptures from Monte Prama precede the development of large Aegean sculptures.

Some researchers suspect that the Scherden ( Šrdn in the Egyptian spelling that does not express any vowels), often vocalized in research as Schardana, a " sea ​​people " from the eastern Mediterranean and known from Egyptian sources , have settled here. Others assume that the shards originally came from Sardinia and settled in the Lebanese or northern Canaanite region after the Sea Peoples' unrest (around 1200 BC). There is no clear evidence of this immigration. A temporary presence of Sardinians in the eastern Mediterranean has been proven by finds in the Cretan port settlement Kommos : layers from around 1200 BC were found there. A not inconsiderable number of ceramic fragments were discovered that belong to the nuragic culture and were probably produced on site, as the vessels were unsuitable for sea transport. Nuragic ceramics were also found in the Sicilian commercial center of Cannatello (south of Agrigento ). Little is known about the Scherden, except that they were mentioned long before the Sea Peoples' attack as an Egyptian auxiliary force that took part in the Battle of Kadesh on the Egyptian side under Ramses II . Before that, the shards were mentioned in the Amarna letters during the 18th dynasty (around the middle of the 14th century BC. In a letter from the king of Byblos to the pharaoh, Šardanu are mentioned as a bodyguard). The older hypotheses arose after linguistic studies, according to which the city of Sardis in Lydia was their starting point, from which they had reached the Tyrrhenian Sea ; after that they would have divided into Sardinians and Etruscans . It is more likely, however, that a very long undisturbed indigenous development via the Bonnanaro culture with its protonuraghi led to the nuragic culture. Equating the Scherden with an early population of Sardinia is still very controversial in modern research.

Punians, Romans, Byzantines and Arabs

The Phoenician-Punic phase

Carthage's colonies
Unsettled area (Barbaria) and early city foundations - Phoenician (green); punic (red)

The Phoenician-Punic period in Sardinia began in the 9th century BC. The Phoenician phase starting from Tire lasted about 300 years until about 550 BC. The following Punic phase ended after about 300 years in the 3rd century BC. Chr.

Since the 14th century BC Sardinia was visited by seafarers from the eastern Mediterranean. Mycenaeans and Cypriots were already trading with the island at this time. The Etruscan-Phoenician trade was also carried out in Sardinia from the 7th century, as the Etruscans did not allow any branches in their area.

The Punians, who were particularly interested in the ore deposits of the Iglesiente , followed in the footsteps of the Levantine traders . They not only founded trading establishments in places like Karali (Roman Carales; today Cagliari ), and Othoca (the oldest), Nora , Sulki (Roman Sulcis) Su Fraigu (Punic name unknown) and Tharros , but also colonies. It is controversial whether the nuragic culture resisted the conquest of the land shortly afterwards, as the culture was already in its final phase. However, an inscription on Nora's stele from the 9th century speaks of fighting. The cremation of Monte Sirai is also documented , without it being possible to determine who was responsible. This happened around the time when the Punians took control of the colonies.

Middle of the 6th century BC The Punians had brought the south and west of Sardinia under control and stopped the attempts at a Greek settlement in Corsica (540 BC in the sea ​​battle of Alalia ). After that, they began to transform their part of the island into a granary. Pseudo-Aristotle and other sources report large-scale clearing. At the same time, Punic-Libyan settlers came to Cicero (in Pro Scauro), who were brought to the island as farm workers. Sardinia was also used for troop recruitment. So Sardinians took as early as 480 BC. In the battle lost by Hamilcar near Himera in Sicily .

The occupied Sardinian territories were given a road network, possibly with milestones, along today's state road SS131. The main connections, however, went over the sea along the coasts, where bases were established. Some place names go back to the Punic period, such as Sirai and Sirri near Carbonia (from Punic SR = rock), Magomadas near Bosa (from MQMHDSH = new place). Siddi in the Marmilla and Tani near Iglesias are apparently places named after the deities Sid and Tanit . An analysis carried out in the area of ​​the municipality of Sanluri ( Campidano ) showed the complete development of the fertile areas . A dozen Punic hamlets have been counted within a circle six kilometers in diameter.

Punic and Sardinian combined in the occupied territory from the 3rd century BC. To a culture. Religious life most clearly reflects assimilation . The Punic variant of the fertility cult spread (documented in the nuraghi of Genna Maria and Lugherras ). On the other hand, Ipogeo di San Salvatore and the cult of the “god of the hunt” Sid Addir Babay in the temple of Antas show that nuragic deities were absorbed in the Sardinian-Punic world and that their sanctuaries continued to exist in a modified form.

As far as we know today, the triangle Ibiza , Corsica (including Sardinia) and Sicily represented the overseas continuation of the Carthaginian motherland, while mainland Spain was militarily, administratively, ethnically and culturally far less closely connected to North Africa. The Punic cities of Sardinia were the only ones to be ruled on the model of Carthage . They had a popular assembly chaired by two sufets who were only in office for a year named after them. Against this background it is understandable that the military takeover of the island by the Romans in 238 BC. BC primarily represents a political date. More recently, archeology has shown that Sardinia was still long after the younger Scipio in 146 BC. Chr. Carthage destroyed , had remained influenced by the Punic culture.

The ancient writers knew that the island was divided into indigenous and Punic areas. Among the mountain dwellers they differentiated, among other things, the Balari and Iliensi in the Barbagia and the Corsi in the Gallura. They summarized these under names such as Fellsard (the Sardi Pelliti of Livy ). They indicated the Punic areas as the settlement area of ​​the Punians and Sardinians. During the First Punic War , Rome felt the strategic importance of Sardinia. After unsuccessful attempts to bring the island under his control, Rome had to enter into the peace treaty of 241 BC. Recognize the sovereignty of Carthage over Sardinia.

Uprisings in North Africa, as a result of which the troops stationed in Sardinia mutinied and caused terrible massacres among the population, led to the Romans in 238 BC. Gained rule over Sardinia.

The Romans and their successors

Until the First Punic War, the Punic inhabitants of Carthage were nominally the masters of the island, although they never advanced inland, which was largely autonomous well into the Roman period (from 238 BC). The Roman occupation was followed by eighty years of occupation by the Vandals from 455 AD. The Byzantine or Eastern Roman occupation began in 534 when the imperial general Belisarius conquered the islands in the western Mediterranean. The island became materially and culturally impoverished. Nevertheless, the Sardinian folklore took on Byzantine influences, as the S'ardia, an equestrian festival in honor of Emperor Constantine, in Sedilo shows. The Ostrogoths briefly appeared on the island, conquering Cagliari in 552 under Totila . The Lombards tried several times from 568, but without success, to conquer the island. In 599 Pope Gregory the Great urged the local bishops to force the numerous pagans of Sardinia to convert to Christianity.

The four Sardinian judiciaries

With the conquest of Sulcis in 704, a period of more than two hundred years began in which the Arabs repeatedly raided the coast of the island. A large part of the coastal population fled into the interior of the island. Trade fell sharply, the residents practiced subsistence farming in the interior of the island and every town and village tried to become self-sufficient. In 753 an Arab army occupied the south of the island. In 815 the island asked Ludwig the Pious (778-840) in vain for help. Byzantine rule officially ended around 832 with the secession of the Byzantine governor.

The now isolated island was divided into four Giudicati ( Judikate ) Arborea , Cagliari, Gallura and Torres with local feudal rulers (“judges”) from the 9th century . The Arab fleets ruled the coasts. A permanent Arab conquest could be prevented until 1014/15 after the mujahid of Dénia had already conquered large parts of the coastal areas with the help of 120 galleys. The Italian coastal cities were militarily threatened by the Arab base of operations in Sardinia. Through the mediation of Pope Benedict VIII, in 1016 the fleets of the naval powers Genoa and Pisa defeated the Arabs and displaced the Mujahid from the island again. Pisa officially received Sardinia as a papal fiefdom, Genoa ruled the north (see also Islam in Italy ).

Pisans, Swabians and Spaniards

The Staufer and King of Sicily, Frederick II. , Appointed (1198-1250) in 1239 his illegitimate son Enzio to King of Sardinia (1239-1249, † 1272), where the status of the island originated as a kingdom that extends to the rise in the Kingdom Italy was preserved in 1861. Sardinia later, like Sicily, first fell to the Kingdom of Aragon (1323-1409), which renewed the Sardinian imperial status, and from the early 16th century belonged to the Kingdom of Spain in personal union : the Arborea judiciary fell apart last.

The autochthonous population of the city of Alghero (Sardinian S'Alighera , Catalan L'Alguer ) was expelled or replaced by Catalan settlers; their descendants speak Catalan to this day .

See also: List of Viceroys of Sardinia

Austrians, Savoyers and Italians

Historical map of Sardinia, from Meyer's Konversationslexikon from 1888

After the Spanish Habsburgs died out, Sardinia fell to the Austrian line of the House of Habsburg after the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714, but was ceded by Austria - in exchange for Sicily - to the ruling house of Savoy in 1714, which acquired a royal title with the possession of Sicily in 1714 had and now based it on the possession of Sardinia. The newly created Kingdom of Sardinia with its capital Turin and its provinces Savoy and Piedmont had its geographical focus on the Italian mainland. The Sardinian kings Charles Emanuel IV (1796–1802) and his brother Victor Emanuel I (1802–1821) ruled only during the French occupation of the northern Italian part of the empire between 1799/1800 and 1814 - similar to the Bourbon king who was expelled from Naples a little later of Sicily, Ferdinand IV - under the protection of the British fleet directly from their island of Sardinia, which was otherwise rather neglected. In the course of the Italian unification , the ruler of Sardinia Victor Emmanuel II (1849–1878) became King of Italy in 1861.


In 1794, five years after the French Revolution , there was an uprising of the Sardinian upper class, which resulted in the expulsion of Piedmontese officials from Sardinia. This was followed by a failed revolt against the feudal Sardinian upper class in 1796.

In the course of the Italian unification in 1860/61 and the renewed shifting of the center of gravity from the principalities in Italy to Turin, Florence and later Rome, Sardinia was finally pushed to the provincial edge. The island was not granted autonomy until 1946, but until 1982 there were a few, e.g. Sometimes armed rebellions in favor of the complete independence of Sardinia, which were often combined with kidnappings.

In Sardinian nationalism , movements are gathering which strive for consistent autonomy or independence from Italy.

Individual evidence

  1. Anna Olivieri, Carlo Sidore, Alessandro Achilli and others: Mitogenome Diversity in Sardinians: A Genetic Window onto an Island's Past. In: Molecular Biology and Evolution. Volume 34, Issue 5, May 1, 2017, pp. 1230–1239, doi: 10.1093 / molbev / msx082
  2. ^ Maria Luisa Ferrarese Ceruti: Ceramica micenea in Sardegna (notizia preliminare). In: Rivista di Scienze Preistoriche. 34, 1979, pp. 242-252.
  3. Adam Zertal, one of the excavators of the 1993–2000 excavated settlement of el-Ahwat in northern Israel, suspects that “ Tholos- like” buildings may be associated with Sardinia. Publication of the excavation: Adam Zertal (Ed.): El-Ahwat, A Fortified Site from the Early Iron Age Near Nahal 'Iron, Israel. Excavations 1993-2000. Leiden 2012, ISBN 978-90-04-17645-4 .
  4. ^ Livingston Vance Watrous: Kommos III, The Late Bronze Age Pottery. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ 1992, ISBN 0-691-03607-1 , pp. 163-191, plates 56-57.
  5. ^ Sara T. Levi: Produzioni artigianali: la ceramica. Circolazione dei produtti e organizzazione della manufattura. In: D. Cocchi Neck (Ed.): L 'Età del Bronzo Recente in Italia. Atti del Congresso Nazionale di Lido di Camaiore, October 26-29, 2000. Mauro Baroni, Viareggio 2004, pp. 233-242.
  6. Friedhelm Winkelmann (Ed.): Byzanz in the 7th century. Investigation into the development of feudalism. Akad.-Verlag, (East) Berlin 1978, p. 252.
  7. Alex Metcalfe: The Muslims of medieval Italy. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh 2009, ISBN 978-0-7486-2008-1 , pp. 6f.
  8. Christopher Kleinhenz (Ed.): Medieval Italy. To encyclopedia. Volume 2: L-Z. (= The Routledge encyclopedias of the Middle Ages Medieval Italy. Volume 9), Routledge, New York 2004, ISBN 0-415-93931-3 , p. 1014.
  9. ^ Alfred Schlicht: The Arabs and Europe. 2000 years of shared history. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-17-019906-4 , p. 40; and Michael Mitterauer : Why Europe? Medieval foundations of a special route. 4th edition. CH Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-50893-6 , p. 224 ( side view in the Google book search).


  • Albert Hirmer; Jürgen Thimme : Art of the Sardinians until the end of the Nuragic period. Hirmer, Munich 1983, ISBN 3-7774-3640-2 .
  • Ferruccio Barreca: La civiltà fenicio-punica in Sardegna. Sassari 1986. civiltà fenicio-punica. (online; PDF; 8.9 MB)
  • Rainer Pauli: Sardinia - history, culture, landscape. 8th edition. DuMont, Cologne 1998, ISBN 3-7701-0873-6 .
  • Papoff Guisi: La preistoria della Sardegna . Cagliari 1999.
  • P. Bernardini: Precolonizzazione e colonizzazione. In: Rubens D'Oriano, Paolo Bernardini: Argyrophleps nesos. L'isola dalle vene d'argento. Esploratori, mercanti e coloni in Sardegna tra il XIV e il VI sec. A. C. 2001, OCLC 876572742 , pp. 27-30.
  • Martin Kremp: The Arabs in the western Mediterranean. Sardinia, Corsica, Malta. Mediterranea, Frankfurt am Main 2004, DNB 972269975 .
  • Laura Soro: Sardinia and the Mycenaean World: The Research of the Last 30 Years. In: Fritz Blakolmer et al. (Ed.): Austrian research on the Aegean Bronze Age 2009. Files from the conference from March 6th to 7th, 2009 at the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Salzburg. Vienna 2011, ISBN 978-3-85161-047-5 , pp. 283-294.
  • F. Lo Schiavo and others: Archaeometallurgy in Sardinia. From the origin to the Early Iron Age . Consiglio Nazionale delle ricerche, Istituto per gli Studi delle Civiltà dell'Egeo e del Vicino Oriente, Universita 'degli studi di Cagliari, Dipartimento di geoingegneria e tecnologie ambientali Dipartimento di ingegneria chimica e materiali, 2005, ISBN 2-907303-95 .
  • Cinzia Vismara, Philippe Pergola, Daniel Istria, Rossana Martorelli: Sardinia and Corsica in Roman times . (= Zabern's illustrated books on archeology ). Zabern, Mainz 2011, ISBN 978-3-8053-3564-5 .

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