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Post-cremation burials

In addition to burial rituals, the ritual of cremation was practiced in the necropolis of Is Pirixeddus of Sant'Antioco, both in Punic and Roman times.

Cremation took place in Sulky in full Hellenistic period, between the third and second centuries B.C., but it did not consist in the restoration of a typical burial procedure from the Phoenician Age (VIII-VII century B.C.), but was the result of the spread of a Greek funerary ritual which in Sardinia became common from the Roman conquest of the Island which took place in 238 B.C. In these cases, containers which had previously been used in homes, such as jugs, urns, amphorae (fig. 1) were often used as an ossuary, next to which a normal or a large stone was often placed as a grave marker. This kind of reuse of kitchenware for burials is very common in the ancient world, throughout various eras from prehistory.

Fig. 1 - Small Punic amphora manufactured in Carthage used as an ossuary. Municipal Archaeological Museum "F. Barreca" (from BARTOLONI 2007, p. 91, fig. 60).

Sulky also evidences cremated corpses without urns, whose ashes and burned bones were probably buried after being collected in small shrouds. Numerous artefacts of this kind have been found inside the underground chamber tombs, placed, together with simple grave goods, above the pre-existing layer of buried people, or in the side niches with a layer of pebbles as bedding.

Fig. 2 - Funerary urn with Roman ointment-holder placed in a niche in a Punic underground chamber in Sulky (from TRONCHETTI 1989, p. 35, fig. 21).

The same use of underground burial chambers of the Punic Age was carried out during Roman times. In fact the remains of the cremations were placed within quadrangular stone boxes (figs. 2-4), or in lead, rectangular or circular urns, or more often in terracotta containers with lids or sealed with lime.

Fig. 3 - Stone box used as a container for ashes and burned bones, still arranged inside it. Municipal Archaeological Museum "F. Barreca" (photo by M. Murgia).
Fig. 4 - Stone urns with lid from the Roman period. Municipal Archaeological Museum "F. Barreca" (photo by M. Murgia).

In other cases, the remains of the cremated corpses were put outside the chambers, in urns, jars or jugs, placed in shallow graves, next to a grave marker generally consisting of a stone. The conservation state of these containers is generally poor and the necropolis of Sulky has returned two almost intact ones only in one case, complete with a lid, which survived because the pit in which they were positioned was covered with a large squared stone placed as a grave marker.


  • F. BARRECA, La Sardegna Fenicia e punica, Sassari 1984.
  • P. BARTOLONI, Il museo archeologico comunale “F. Barreca” di Sant’Antioco, Sassari 2007
  • S. MUSCUSO, E. POMPIANU, Ipogei punici tra età punica e romana: la Tomba Steri 2, in M. B. COCCO, A. GAVINI, A. IBBA (a cura di), Atti del XIX Convegno Africa Romana (Sassari, 16-19 dicembre 2010), Roma 2012, pp. 2032-2059.
  • C. TRONCHETTI, S. Antioco, Sassari 1989.
  • C. TRONCHETTI, La necropoli romana di Sulci. Scavi 1978: relazione preliminare = QuadCa 1990, pp. 173-192.