Museo Archeologico Nazionale

Museo Archeologico Nazionale information

Cagliari , Italy
Piazza dell'Arsenale
More information
adult/reduced €4/2
Opening hours
9am-8pm Tue-Sun
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Of the four museums at the Citadella dei Musei, this is the undoubted star. Sardinia’s premier archaeological museum displays artefacts spanning millennia of ancient history, including a superb collection of pint-sized nuraghic bronzetti (bronze figurines) which, in the absence of any written records, are a vital source of information on Sardinia’s mysterious nuraghic culture (approximately 1800-500 BC). The museum takes a chronological spin, deftly moving from pre-nuraghic times to the Bronze and Iron Ages, the Phoenecians and Romans.

In all about 400 nuraghic bronzes have been discovered, many in sites of religious importance, leading scholars to conclude that they were probably used as votive offerings. Depicting tribal chiefs, warriors, hunters, mothers and animals, the figurines are stylistically crude but remarkably effective. There are even little models of the nuraghi (Bronze Age fortified settlements).

Since March 2014, the museum showcases several of the Giganti di Monte Prama. Towering over two metres, these giant sandstone sculptures were unveiled after years of careful restoration. Dating to the 8th and 9th centuries BC, these owl-eyed archers, boxers and wrestlers are the most prized nuraghic sculptures ever found. More are on display in the Museo Civico in Cabras.

Besides precious bronzes, the ground floor showcases a fine stash of pre-nuraghic stone implements and obsidian tools, rudimentary ceramics and funny round fertility goddesses, a model tophet (sacred Phoenician or Carthaginian burial ground for children and babies), alongside delicate debris such as terracotta vases, glass vessels, scarabs and jewellery from ancient Karalis (Cagliari), Sulcis, Tharros and Nora.

The 1st and 2nd floors contain more of the same but are divided by region and important sites rather than by age. Among the highlights are some Roman-era mosaics, a collection of Roman statues, busts and tombstones from Cagliari, and displays of coins.