For all of the civilizations that have shared this lump of rock we call Earth with us, it is often a sobering thought to realize that a great many of them have actually faded into the oblivion of forgotten history, forever lost to the eternal midnight of vanished knowledge that we can no longer see into. Often these civilizations were magnificent, sprawling, and advanced, yet they have nevertheless managed to melt away into the abyssal depths of time. These are the civilizations that have for whatever reasons become lost to us, invisible to our efforts to gaze upon them and learn more about them, as hard as we try. Whether it be due to a lack of written records, their sudden disappearances, or their often baffling monuments that they have left behind, these peoples have managed to defy understanding, leaving only perplexing clues in their passing. One such civilization once lived upon the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, a once proud people who have left behind mysterious structures and monuments that are as enormous as they are inscrutable.
Going back into the mists of time, from the Bronze Age of around the 18th century BC, the island of Sardinia, in the Mediterranean Sea, was once ruled by the mysterious Nuragic civilization. This lost culture lasted until the time of the Romans, who came to the island in 238 BC, after which the enigmatic Nuragic faded into obscurity and out of existence. The Nuragic civilization left behind no written history of their people, merely romanticized and exaggerated tales told by the Greeks and Romans, and they largely remain a perplexing mystery. One of the only legacies they did leave imprinted upon the land and its history are the many megalithic stone structures they left behind, such as the nuraghe, which are ancient fort-like structures with their purposes mysterious and long lost to time, numbering in the thousands, scattered all around the Sardinian landscape. There are also the mysterious immense stone tombs that dot the landscape here, called the Tomba dei gigantic, or “The Tombs of Giants,” due to their gigantic size.
These massive funerary monuments were constructed of enormous slabs or blocks that rose up to 13 feet high which were arranged around an even bigger central stele or portal stone with a doorway carved into it, to form corridors and rooms or chambers that can measure as much as 50 feet in length. The most famous one of these giant’s tombs is one that can be found at a place called Coddu Vecchiu, in Arzachena, northern Sardinia, and which was built between the years of 1800 to 1600 BC and first uncovered in 1966. The tomb at Coddu Vecchiu has a forecourt made of eleven granite stones standing in a semi-circle, and is composed of a central stele standing 13 feet high, which marks the entrance to the tomb, and a corridor within measuring 33 feet long.
This tomb and others like it have many legends attached to them. Since they were found to hold within them large numbers of human remains, in past ages they were said to be the leftovers from some wicked giant’s meal of human flesh, and other lore said that they served as the graves or giants or even their residences. Yet in fact they were most likely used as massive public communal graves, with the doorways serving as a passage through the barrier to the afterlife, but this doesn’t make them any less mysterious, as the rituals involved with creating them and the significance of their designs are poorly understood, and we know little about the people who made them.
One interesting idea is that the arrangement of the stones was designed to channel the telluric current and magnetic forces of the surrounding granite and energy lines, possibly for the purpose of rejuvenation and regeneration, or to provide a smoother transition to the afterlife. It is speculated that these tombs were perhaps purposefully built over earth energy lines, that the semicircular layout would focus these powers, and that not only would the dead would come here, but also the sick or wounded, hoping that these mysterious forces would heal them. This has been somewhat supported by the many visitors to such tombs who have reported feeling invigorated while there, or of feeling a thrumming energy in the air and the stone. Did this ancient people understand these forces and seek to harness them through the construction of these gigantic tombs? It is unclear, and for now the exact nature of the Tombs of Giants remains a mystery.
In addition to Tombs of Giants, Sardinia has another mystery of actual giants, or at least statues of them. In 1974, some random, nondescript farmland near Monte Prama yielded quite an amazing find. There in the earth were found the broken remains of a total of over 40 massive statues, crafted into the likenesses of armored warriors, each around 2 meters in height and fashioned from solid stone, which had been abandoned there to the elements for millennia. Oddly, the statues do not appear human, but rather have outlandish and creepy visages with large concentric circles for eyes and very small, sometimes nonexistent mouths, as well as elongated necks, which along with their fierce weaponry and armor lend them a rather unsettling and formidable appearance.
The statues, which were dubbed the Kolossoi, were most certainly made by the Nuragic civilization, and were thought to have possibly been constructed as intimidating warrior guardians of the dead for a nearby necropolis, but this is uncertain, as is the reason why they look the way they do. At the time, it was quite a groundbreaking discovery, as no other such collection of larger than life sized sculptures had ever been found in Europe, and they were enigmatic in their design and purpose. Despite this, the statues were whisked away and stored in a museum vault, where they would sit in the darkness much as they had for centuries, collecting dust until decades later, when in 2006 researchers sort of rediscovered them and began piecing together some of the broken parts, a daunting task, especially since many of the fragments are missing.
The reconstruction work took a total of 4 years, and 25 of the ancient warrior statues were restored to some semblance of the way they might have once looked, complete with bows, shields, swords, armor, and horned helmets. In 2014, these amazing statues were put on display at the national archaeological museum, in Cagliari, in southern Sardinia, much to the awe and amazement of visitors. The statues themselves, although finally brought into the light after so long, still keep their mysteries close. No one is really sure why they were made, how they were once arranged, or even exactly where they originally stood, and they remain another mystery of Sardinia’s lost Nuragic people.
These mysteries have managed to remain elusive and murky, the remnants of a culture who left little in the way of information about themselves except these massive stone structures and statues, practically the only evidence that they ever even existed at all. Yet even though we have these relics of the past to use in order to try and peer through the window of history, that window remains rather foggy, what lies beyond indistinct and fleeting. The Tombs of Giants, giant warrior statues, and other such structures scattered about Sardinia have managed to remain as cryptic puzzles that fire the imagination and offer hints, but no real answers, the people who made them just as mysterious as they ever were, their culture and ways lost to time even as their grand, giant constructions live on.