Sardinia Cultural Heritage Project

The Sardinia Cultural Heritage Project is a multi-year program focused on the rich and unique heritage of the island of Sardinia, a cultural gem in the Mediterranean basin with a peerless natural environment. The project illuminates little-known aspects and spreads awareness of this remarkable place that played an important role in Mediterranean prehistory and history.

The Project was conceived by Barbara Faedda, the Academy’s Executive Director, and Paolo Carta, Professor at the University of Trento and member of the Academy’s Executive Committee. It is funded by the Autonomous Region of Sardinia, in collaboration with the Mont'e Prama Foundation, and developed under the umbrella of the Academy’s International Observatory for Cultural Heritage, which sponsors and encourages research on monuments, artifacts, and traditions.

Conferences, exhibitions, and publications on the archaeology, art, and culture of Sardinia draw an audience from New York and across the U.S. These initiatives are conceived in collaboration with the University of Cagliari and the University of Sassari.

The Project launched with a series of initiatives on the archeological site of Mont'e Prama and its dozens of stone figures that were found by chance in the 1970s—towering statues that are among the most important international archaeological discoveries of the last fifty years. A conference and two exhibitions on the ancient city of Tharros were presented in the second year of the program; for this third year, the Project will focus on the UNESCO Site at Barumini and Nuragic culture in Sardinia.

New funding and other updates


Roundtable and Gallery Exhibition (planned for April 2024)

"New Reports from Sardinia’s UNESCO Site: Nuragic Culture in Barumini" is the title of this semester's upcoming conference; a photography exhibition on Barumini will be inaugurated on that same day.


Online digital exhibition: Tharros (from September 2023)

This digital presentation on Tharros is an extension of the gallery show inaugurated in the Academy this year (and seen in person by 5000+ visitors in its first five months).


Roundtable and Gallery Exhibition (from April 2023)

At the Italian Academy in April, The Ancient City of Tharros: Cultural Crossroads in the Mediterranean over Two Millennia brought in the public to hear from archaeologists about Tharros, the Punic-Roman port on the Sardinian coast. A photography exhibition was inaugurated on that day; it is still on display.


New Book (May 2023)

Out now from Columbia University Press, A Lost Mediterranean Culture: The Giant Statues of Sardinia's Mont'e Prama is the first English-language book to explore Mont’e Prama’s colossal limestone statues, re-built from thousands of shattered limestone pieces that surfaced in 1974 in western Sardinia. 


Online digital exhibition: Mont'e Prama (since April 2022)

The Italian Academy's digital presentation of The Giant Heroes of Mont'e Prama: Recovering Ancient Sardinian Heritage includes essays by a range of experts along with photos and a selection of recent articles about the newest discoveries at this Sardinian site. 


Extension of the Sardinia Program

All of these initiatives are being developed with the generous support of a grant to the Italian Academy from Italy’s Autonomous Region of Sardinia; the initial funding was augmented this year with a second awardfor a total now of $300,000

The program is currently focusing on the archaeological treasures of Sardinia, with conferences, exhibitions, and publications in collaboration with the Mont’e Prama Foundation. 

Under the umbrella of the Academy’s International Observatory for Cultural Heritage, the future years’ initiatives will further illuminate the treasures of Sardinia's remarkable cultural heritage and introduce audiences to the island’s importance in Mediterranean culture. 


Press Release of May 2019: 

With a $151,427 grant to the Academy, Italy’s Autonomous Region of Sardinia has launched a series of initiatives highlighting Sardinia’s cultural heritage.

This initiative is developed in conjunction with the Academy’s International Observatory for Cultural Heritage, which sponsors and encourages research on monuments, artifacts, and traditions.

“Given the role of Sardinia in Mediterranean culture, the project will set out to illuminate the lesser-known aspects of Sardinian culture that expand our knowledge of this remarkable place,” said Barbara Faedda, the Executive Director of the Italian Academy. “It is an island marked by its many and varied cultural contacts with outsiders—peaceful contacts as well as invasions by the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Vandals, and the Arabs, and later by Spain and Austria. Sardinia is especially rich in archaeological and historical sites ranging from its nuraghi (conical stone towers), to its more ancient cave tombs, and to its city walls that still stand intact from medieval times.”

The first event—The Giant Heroes of Mont'e Prama: Recovering Ancient Sardinian Heritage—will focus on the dozens of stone figures that were found by chance in the 1970s. These towering statues are now considered markers of a cultural revolution that began in the Bronze Age.

Over the course of the multi-year program, the Italian Academy will present lectures, exhibitions, and publications on the history, art, and design of Sardinia—for the benefit of an audience drawn from New York and from across the U.S. These initiatives will be conceived in collaboration with the University of Cagliari and the University of Sassari.

The International Observatory for Cultural Heritage, at the Academy, is dedicated to the survival, protection, and conservation of cultural heritage. It is historical, practical, and theoretical. It sponsors and encourages research into monuments, artifacts, practices, and traditions. It records losses and destruction of international cultural heritage in all media and across all boundaries, and it funds and seeks funding to aid in research on and conservation of treasures at risk—whether from age or location, natural disaster, urban development, conflict, war, or other perils. This is expressed in the daily work of our Academy Fellows; in the Academy’s exhibitions and conferences, and in multi-year projects.