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The Roman amphitheatre

What remains of the ancient Roman amphitheatre of Sulky was identified at the end of 1983 at the base of the hill where the Punic necropolis with the underground chamber tombs is also located. The area of the Punic burial ground, in fact, during the second century B.C., and therefore during the Roman Republican period, was affected by works for constructing a monumental entrance to the Acropolis, the remains of which lie at the foot of the fort of Su Pisu, to the north. Traces of a temple building with steps, similar in structure to the one in via Malta in Cagliari, are still preserved on the Acropolis (fig. 2).

Fig. 1 - Remains of walls on the acropolis of Sulky (photo by C. Olianas)
Fig. 2 - Reconstruction of the plant of the so-called "temple-theatre" of Via Malta in Cagliari (from ).

During that time, a ramp and the terrace wall connected to the esplanade were built, the latter consisted of earth which filled a part of the Punic tombs and then of other soil placed over it which was then further levelled. Therefore during the Roman Republican period, the area ceased its funerary role and took on a public character linked to cult instead.

During the following period, around the second century A.D., the area was further transformed: the esplanade which had been obtained by filling the tombs with soil was almost completely removed, therefore leaving a rocky open space exposed where the ancient Punic tombs once again emerged, now filled with soil, and where the podium of the amphitheatre, in large, more or less regular blocks, plastered and painted over more than once, is located.

A large ellipse (fig. 3) is obtained, whose cavea was constructed of perishable material, probably wood, according to a technique which must also have been used in Nora.

Fig. 3 - the ellipse of the amphitheatre of Sulky seen from above (reconstruction by C. Olianas, from Google Earth).

In the podium there are also the statues depicting two lions (fig. 4), belonging to a city gate, or to a place of worship from the Punic funerary sphere, evidently with a decorative function.

Fig. 4 - Lions of Sulky still in situ (from

Along the perimeter of the remains of the monument, it is possible to identify the two main entrances, one on each vertex of the ellipse, and three other small openings one of which was not a real door, but probably gave access to a niche, perhaps destined to a statue. The area therefore changes yet again: from an Acropolis and its temple it becomes an area for public performances, now in suburbia, immediately adjacent to the coeval imperial necropolis, a little further north.


  • P. BARTOLONI, Il museo archeologico comunale “F. Barreca” di Sant’Antioco, Sassari 2007.
  • P. BERNARDINI, I leoni di Sulci, Sardò 4, Sassari 1988.
  • S. MUSCUSO, La necropoli punica di Sulky, in M. GUIRGUIS, E. POMPIANU, A. UNALI (a cura di), Quaderni di Archeologia Sulcitana 1. Summer School di Archeologia Fenicio Punica (Atti 2011), Sassari 2012.
  • C. TRONCHETTI, S. Antioco, Sassari 1989.