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Hypogean chamber tomb with a dromos entrance

The type of tomb which most characterises the necropolis of Sulcis is the one called dròmos, from the Greek word meaning "corridor": it consists, in fact, of corridors carved downwards into the rock, in which steps are cut in order to allow the living to enter the burial chamber located below ground and which welcomed the dead (fig. 1). The size of this corridor varies according to the period: the oldest tombs had wider corridors.

Fig. 1 - typical entrance to a tomb with an entrance corridor: Tomb Steri 2, Sant'Antioco (from MUSCUSO 2010, p. 2039, fig. 6).

At the end of the latter we find a landing which was used to prepare the deceased prior to his entry to what will be his eternal abode. The corridor and the landing, in fact, lead to the entrance of the burial chamber which, once the deposition had taken place, was then closed with a stone slab and sealed with fresh clay; the tomb could also be closed with stones or with clay bricks dried in the sun. The room is always irregular and quadrangular in shape and whilst the oldest tombs have a simple cell, without internal divisions and with the entry along their short side, the newer ones usually have a partition whose end facing the entrance was often decorated. One of the most beautiful and interesting decorations is the life-size whole human figure relief, in Egyptian style, probably depicting the god Baal Addir, lord of the afterlife (tomb 7). Some rooms have pit graves in them, such as Tomb Steri 2 (fig. 2).

Fig. 2 - Interior of Tomb Steri 2 with evidence of two pit graves (in MUSCUSO, POMPIANU 2010, p. 2040, fig. 7).

The walls of the rooms often had niches, within which some vases belonging to the grave goods were placed. Sometimes they were decorated with paintings (painted directly onto the stone) as occurs for the burial chamber of tomb 7, in which simple red bands run horizontally across the walls, outlining the profile of eight niches, two for each wall, and a false door (figs. 4-5).

Fig. 4 - Detail of the painted decoration on the right side of underground grave no. 7 and along the bottom wall (from BERNARDINI 2007, p. 156, fig. 9).
Fig. 5 - Detail of the false door of tomb 7 (from BERNARDINI 2007, p. 157, fig. 10).


  • P. BARTOLONI, Sulcis, Roma 1989.
  • P. BARTOLONI, Il museo archeologico comunale “F. Barreca” di Sant’Antioco, Sassari 2007.
  • P. BERNARDINI, Memorie d’Egitto. Un sepolcro punico da Sulky, in G. M. DELLA FINA (a cura di), Etruschi, Greci, Fenici e Cartaginesi nel Mediterraneo Centrale. Atti del XIV Congresso Internazionale di studi sulla storia e l’archeologia dell’Etruria, (Annali della fondazione per il Museo “Claudio Faina”, XIV), Orvieto 2007, pp. 137-60.
  • S. DONADONI, s.v. Falsa Porta, in Enciclopedia dell’Arte Antica, Classica e Orientale online.
  • S. MUSCUSO, E. POMPIANU, Ipogei punici tra età punica e romana: la Tomba Steri 2, in M. MILANESE, P. RUGGERI, C. VISMARA (a cura di), Atti del XVIII Convegno Africa Romana (Olbia, 11-14 dicembre 2008), Roma 2010, pp. 2032-2059.
  • E. TEA, C. ALBIZZATI, s.v. Altorilievo, in Enciclopedia italiana online.