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Serra Orrios

Serra Orrios

Dorgali (NU)

Serra Orrios is a Bronze age settlement with a large number of huts, simple and complex, and two particular structures identified as megaron temples or temples in antis with vestibule. The site was excavated in the thirties of the previous century.

Serra Orrios

In the thirties of the previous century, northwest of Dorgali not far from the river Cedrino, the remains of a prehistoric settlement were found, Serra Orrios. The archaeologist Doro Levi started excavating the area and discovered that it concerned a Bronze age settlement with more than 100 huts. Unfortunately not much has been published of the three excavations undertaken by Doro Levi who was discharged from his position under the anti-jewish laws just before the Second World War. Only in 1986, after a long intermezzo, the area was cleaned and turned into an archaeological site for the public, many finds were transferred to the newly established archaeological museum of Dorgali.

Serra Orrios (source: Google Maps)
Serra Orrios (source: Google Maps)

The interesting fact of this village is the absence of a central nuraghe, common in large parts of Sardinia. Further research was done in the area of Dorgali in the nineties and 77 more villages were identified, most of these without a central nuraghe. Another characteristic of the village are the two structures that have been identified as small temples, probably these temples played an important role in the social and religious life of the people that lived in these parts of the island.

The temples

The first structures when entering the archaeological area concern a large walled open space with the foundation of a rectangular building. This building has been interpreted as a temple with a vestibule, in antis, and a rectangular room with benches on two sides against the wall. The open space is accessed from the village through a gate, also with a vestibule. Probably the open space was used for social and religious gatherings but could well have been used also as a marketplace where foreigners could trade their mercendise. It is not uncommon that markets were held near temples where foreigners would be safeguarded and the exchange of goods was under the control of the temple. In the Bronze Age it was also not uncommon that worldly and religious powers were combined in one person or family.

Just outside the open space lies a second temple structure with the same characteristics but a smaller walled area (temenos). The religious structures are called megaron temples, after the Mycenean type of tempels, and another indication is in antis because of the vestibule. After the discovery of these structures in Serra Orrios similar structures have been found elsewhere in Sardinia, like Malchittu near Arzachena or Romanzesu near Bitti, which made it possible to identify the religious function. In some cases even a kind of ritual with water was practised, much like the sanctuaries around water wells.

The village

During the excavations of the village it became clear that there was some structure in the position of the huts. A number of huts are grouped around an open space, with or without a water well. Probably these are complex huts where an extended family lived, grandparents, parents, children, often also uncles and aunts and cousins. Some huts could have had specific functions like storage, as a workshop or as a kitchen.

Not all huts seem to have made part of such a complex, east of the megaron temple a group of huts seem to have a different distribution, but north of the temple there are several quarters identified, each around an open space. On the west side of the village a double row of single huts can be seen.
At a little distance from the village there is a particular hut, number 49. This hut has all the characteristics of a large hut of the Assembly found also in other important sites in Sardinia. A circular bench runs along the wall with what seems to be 19 seats. Archaeologists believe this hut may have been older than the two megaron temples and that this could be a third kind of temple.

The surroundings

The village does not have a central nuraghe. There are a few Bronze Age towers to the south. During the excavations of the thirties and sixties two Tombe di Giganti were found near Serra Orrios but now these graves are no longer retraceable. For those that want to visit a Tomba di Giganti there is one a few miles to the north, the Tomba di Giganti of s'Ena de Thomes.


1. Manunza M.R., 1995, Dorgali monumenti antichi, Oristano
Moravetti A., 1998: Serra Orrios e i monumenti archeologici di Dorgali, Sassari


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