Temple of Antas
Not far from Fluminimaggiore, in the middle of a green valley in the mountains, lies the temple of Antas. Initially erected in the punic period it was restructured in roman times. The temple is located in the mining area and would have been dedicated to Sardus Pater, according to mythology assimilated with Hercules. The temple has been partly restored and there are nuragic graves and a settlement nearby.
Temple of Antas
The temple of Antas is located in the middle of the mountains of the Iglesiente, a region rich in metal ores, in one of it's green valleys. Originally the temple was erected by the Punics to symbolize the bond between Carthaginians and Sards and indicated how much already the Punics valued the winning of metals in this area. Under the Romans, who equally valued this metalore rich region, the temple was rebuilt with a typical roman architecture of which the remains can still be seen today. The temple, in the valley of the river Antas that gave it it's modern name, was dedicated to the god-ancestor of the Sards, Babai, who was called Sid by the Punics and Sardus Pater by the Romans. Whether the god of the Sards always has been called Babai is not reported in ancient sources. It was common practice in antiquity to assimilate local deities to Punic, Greek and later Roman gods, and they often lost their original native name.
The temple was built on a platform (23,25 by 9,30 meters) accessible by a large staircase on the frontside as wide as the building itself (17,25 by 9,30 meters). This is a common characterist in the architecture of Roman temples. In front four columns bear the frieze that contains a latin inscription: Imp(eratori) [Caes(ari) M.] Aurelio Antonino. Aug(usto) P(io) F(elici) temp[(lum) d]ei [Sa]rdi Patris Bab[i/vetustate c]on[lapsum] (?) [---] A[---] restitue[ndum] cur[avit] Q (?) Co[el]lius (or Co[cce]ius) Proculus. In our words the temple was restored under emperor Caracalla and dedicated to Sardi Patris Babi, the forefather of the Sards, by a man called Proculus. This dates the restoration phase to around 215 AD, but the Roman version of the temple could have been built as early as 28 BC under Augustus.
Four columns in front and two on the side of the temple, each 8 metres high with ionic capitals, are part of the pronaos, the front part of the building. The cella, the central hall, was built with limestone and probably the floor was covered with a mosaic in black and white pebbles of which only part has survived. At the further side, the adyton was divided in two rooms, each with their own entrance and in front of their doorway a quadrangular bassin in the floor. Probably these contained water and there are still steps on one side to enter the bassin. Uncommon for Roman temples are the two sidedoors, on each side one. Finally the roof was supported by rectangular pillars and by the columns in front. The large limestones of the basement and the walls were kept in place with swallowtail junctions in lead.
Historical developments on the site
The Roman temple was built exactly on the site of it's predecessor of Punic times. This Punic temple has been excavated in part and it has been reconstructed as a rectangular building orientated in a slightly northeast direction in such a way that the room with the altar faced north. Usually in punic temples the main altar was placed against the wall on the northside of the building. During excavations many votive punic inscriptions have been found dedicated to the god Sid. To uncover the punic temple the large staircase of the Roman temple had been largely dismantled and the remains can be seen in front of the temple.
The site was already in use in nuragic times, during the bronze age. Next to the temple nuragic graves have been excavated and in one of these a small bronze statue of a deity was found, identified with the god Babai. At twohundred metres distance to the southwest remains of a nuragic village have been uncovered.
The deity Babai Sid - Sardus Pater
Sardus Pater was an old deity, the god of the hunt Babai, of the Sards. The god was shown with a spear and a feathercrown on coins of roman times. In Punic times the god was assimilated to Sid, the son of Melqart and Tanit (Astarte). In many dedications the name of Sid appears and also in personal names of punic times, like in Sidonius. Sardus on the other hand was connected in mythology to Herakles (Hercules) as one of his sons. Under the Roman emperors the cult of Sardus was encouraged because it matched very well with the original god of the Sards and also because in Rome there was a temple dedicated to Herakles-Melqart on the Forum Boarium which made the connection between Sardus and Rome more natural.
The mountain ranges of the Iglesiente and the region of the Sulcis have always been rich in metal ores and since antiquity there has been a mining industry. Especially lead, silver and to some extent iron was found and worked. For this manpower was needed which was available with the local population. The temple was a means to bind the local population to their Punic and Roman rulers. From roman sources we also know that the mines were used as a place for exiled romans who were set to work there.
Address: Fluminimaggiore, tel. 0781-580990
Openingtimes: 9:30 - 19:30 (from july through september), in winter 9:30 - 16:30/17:30
Prices: Euro 4,00 ; For groups and children Euro 3,00
site: Società Start-Uno
Guided tours available and there are itineraries along the roman road to the old roman quarry and the caves of Su Mannau
The information has been updated for 2018 but prices and opening hours may vary.