A Lost Mediterranean Culture: The Giant Statues of Sardinia's Mont'e Prama

book cover


Barbara Faedda; and Paolo Carta 


Columbia University Press



Thousands of shattered limestone pieces came to light in 1974 at the Mont’e Prama site in western Sardinia. They have been reassembled into dozens of striking, colossal statues that reward close study by archaeologists, historians, conservators, and restorers. The giant statues and the individual tombs in this monumental necropolis—sculpted by a powerful Mediterranean civilization—make Mont’e Prama a uniquely rich representation of a culture’s values and traditions in the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.

This is the first English-language book to explore Mont’e Prama’s limestone statues—among the most important archaeological discoveries of the past fifty years and the source of fresh discoveries even today. It is written by the people who are leading the excavation and restoration of these treasures; researching the artifacts and their context; and presenting the eerie faces, towering bodies, and sprawling site to the world. A Lost Mediterranean Culture takes the reader through the details of the various discoveries at Mont’e Prama, recounting the history of scholarship on the artifacts and describing the landscape, the context, and the meticulous restoration efforts. It also addresses the illicit trafficking of Sardinian cultural property.

Lavishly illustrated with photographs and other figures that showcase fine details, A Lost Mediterranean Culture offers fresh information for specialists and captivates a wider audience with the beauty of these massive sculptures.

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This book is part of the Italian Academy's Sardinia Cultural Heritage Project which includes an online digital exhibition—focused on the statues of Mont’e Prama—as well as a gallery show and a conference exploring a related archaeological site, Tharros. In a related initiative, the Academy facilitated the loan of a 3000-year-old statue from Mont’e Prama to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (on display May–December 2023). 


In recent decades, archaeological research in Sardinia has led to the extraordinary discovery of forty two-meter-tall statues of warriors with swords and shields, archers, and young people with gloved right hands. This impressive book tells the story of the discovery of these statues, adding greatly to our understanding of Sardinia's magnificent yet often forgotten ancient society. Michel Gras, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei

This pioneering account of the 'Giants' of Mont'e Prama in English boosts the international community's knowledge of the early history of Sardinia, situated in the context of the ancient Mediterranean. Through discussing this outstanding series of full-size sculptures, referred to as the 'ancestors,' this book will help readers understand why Mont'e Prama has been proposed for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Daniele F. Maras, Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia, Rome

The extraordinary funerary area of Mont'e Prama, Sardinia, is characterized by many 'Giants,' limestone statues over two meters high aligned along the road, representing warriors, priests, and other culturally important figures. This book recounts the fascinating discovery and interpretation of the tombs and offers a significant new contribution to our knowledge of the necropolis. Giovanni Ugas, author of C’era una volta Atlantide. L’identità geografica e storica dell’isola di Platone

Introduction, by Barbara Faedda and Paolo Carta
1. Rites of Initiation, War, and Death in Mont’e Prama, by Raimondo Zucca
2. Mont’e Prama Excavation, Research, and Restoration, by Emerenziana Usai
3. Sardinian Society in the Mont’e Prama Era: A Community of Heroes and Warriors, by Guido Clemente; introduction by Marco Maiuro
4. Landscapes of Mont’e Prama, by Peter van Dommelen and Alfonso Stiglitz
5. The Restoration and Conservation of the Giants of Mont’e Prama, by Roberto Nardi
Appendix: The Illicit Trafficking of Sardinian Cultural Objects, by Giuditta Giardini