Sacro di Santa Cristina, Sardinia, Italy

The nuragic sanctuary of Santa Cristina is an ' archaeological site situated in the territory of the municipality of Paulilatino , in the province of Oristano , in Sardinia west-central and southern part of the' plateau of Abbasanta . The area takes its name from the rural church of Santa Cristina is located in its vicinity.

The site is essentially composed of two parts: the first, the best known and studied, consisting of the well temple, a sacred well dating back to the ' nuragic , with it associated structures: the meetings hut, fence and other smaller huts.The second part of the complex is about two hundred meters south-west consists of a single tower nuraghe, offering some stone huts of elongated shape of uncertain date and a nuragic village, yet to be excavated, of which only some elements are visible outcropping Although limited archaeological integrates the complex the area of the church and Christian devotional novena of Santa Cristina understood as the place where we celebrate the novena in honor of the saint.

The sacred well, the construction of which can be placed around all ' XI century BC is enclosed by a Temenos , elliptical fence that separates the sacred from the profane area, which surrounds another form of "lock" , within which it is located the well itself. The structure is similar to that of other holy wells that are located in Sardinia, but differs from them for the excellent condition of the internal parts as well as for the size, very large and well proportioned.

The well is preceded by a vestibule where probably took place of worship ceremonies, after the vestibule follows the scale that opens in a trapezoidal compartment, the stairway is formed by a single ramp of 25 steps, which narrows down (from about 3.50 m at the top to 1.40 m at the base) as it approaches the chamber that contains the actual well; the scale is joined symmetrically to lintels covering, formed by blocks all equal to each other that create an extraordinary effect "inverted scale" of constant width.

The true sacred well and right is formed by a circular cell (diameter about 2.5 m) covered by a tholos (pseudocupola) to ogival vault almost 7 m high, made of basalt blocks manufactured and arranged in rows, whose diameter starting from the lintel of the entrance door, positioned at the end of the tier, decreases up to create a hole of 35 cm approximately at ground level. Such light is still dispute origin if it was originally closed by a circular stone or not. 

The entire structure of the sacred well is made with very accurate techniques; all of medium size basalt blocks (about 60 cm in length for 30 cm thickness) were machined and finished so arranged in horizontal rows taking care that the lower block protruded by about one centimeter relative to the upper block in order to create a profile notched and a very elaborate and effective architectural effect. The excellent state of conservation of structure gives the well a great archaeological and historical importance. Unfortunately, nothing is left of the elevation structure which, if existed, very probably entirely covered the mouth of the well and had a prospectus gabled entirely similar to the one still visible in Su Tempiesu of Orune . 

Even today the water flows into the well through a perennial water table that allows you to fill the circular pool carved into the rock base and reach the first rung of the ladder. The level is maintained constant by an estimated discharge channel. 

Giovanni Lilliu , famous Sardinian archaeologist describes the sacred well " is the princely well of Santa Cristina, which is the apex of the water temples. It is well balanced proportions, sophisticated in terse and precise indoor vestments, studied in the geometric composition of the members, so rational in a word not comprehend, at first glance, it operates closer to the year 1000 BC and that has expressed the Nuragic art, before it affermassero island prestigious historical civilizations .

In the sacred structure and in its vicinity were held cults concerning water, which gathered the entire community, recalling the nuragic people from other parts of Sardinia and perhaps even devotees who came from outside the island: it is shown by the four bronze statuettes , one depicting a seated female figure, discovered along with figurines and other votive objects Nuraghic production.Testifies to the persistence of the cult in the time the discovery of gold jewelery Phoenicians much later age Nuragic. 
According to some theories the sanctuary of Santa Cristina could have been also a place for astronomical observation and analysis; In fact, at a particular time of year, the moon is reflected on the bottom of the well, illuminating; what happens when the Moon is at the zenith of locations. In the well of Santa Cristina but the Moon is not placed perfectly in the vertical of the zenith, but also illuminates the water below, creating a reflection. Some archaeologists have argued in this case stating that the tholos originally was closed (thus not allowing the entry of moonlight). In particular they refer to the absence of the elevation structure, of which the majority of holy wells disposed.These objections have been refuted by the archaeologist Arnold Lebeuf, professor at the University of Krakow, and by Enrico Atzeni, who, in relation to the restoration carried out by him stated that the dome merely call into work one (whatever the original) of two segments that form the occulus.The external structure then, would not have prevented the moonlight to penetrate inside.

Near the sacred well there are remains of several buildings attributable to the Nuraghic civilization. In particular they are worthy of note are those of a large circular hut diameter of about 10 meters originally covered (which now has a high of about 1.70 m) with a floor constituted by pebbles, inside which is located a seat (tall about 30 cm deep and 50) that runs along the entire wall, and that probably served to unite a part of the community. 

Photos by Maurizio Cossu



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