Detailed sheets

Traces of wall decoration in the endonarthex and ex-onarthex

Tomb VI of the domus de janas necropolis of Sant’Andrea Priu known as “Tomba del Capo”, was reused for Christian worship in two different periods, reaching the present day as a consecrated church dedicated to Sant'Andrea.

The domus de janas is formed by eighteen rooms; the three largest rooms are arranged in length (fig. 1) and underwent considerable transformation during the paleo-Christian, Byzantine and Medieval ages, becoming a narthex, room and presbytery (bimah).

Fig. 1 - “Tomba del Capo”, Byzantine phase (from CAPRARA 1986, page 46).

The entrance room (eso-narthex or external narthex) was created from the original pre-historic ante-cell. It is sub-rectangular, 4.20 metres wide, and 1.50 metres deep, with an average height of 2.10 metres. A door with an architrave placed horizontally above the two supporting structures leads into a semi-circular room (endo-narthex or internal narthex) with a 7 metre diameter, where the floor contains several hollows dating back to the pre-historic age concentrated around a circle and two tombs from a Byzantine Age (fig. 2).

Fig. 2 - Byzantine tombs (photo Unicity S.p.A.).

The endonarthex ceiling reproduces the ceiling of pre-Nuragic age huts: it is a little hollowed, in the shape of a shell, decorated with radial grooves that start from a semi-circular relief work (fig. 3).

Fig. 3 - The endonarthex ceiling (photo Unicity S.p.A.).

A door 2 metres high and 1.45 metres wide, topped by a visible architrave, leads from the narthex to the room (figs. 4-5).

Fig. 4 - The door that leads from the narthex to the room (photo Unicity S.p.A.).
Fig. 5 - Detail of the architrave (photo Unicity S.p.A.).

When the burial site was converted to a church, these two area (esonarthex and endonarthex) kept their original details from the Prehistoric Age The only transformation is on the digging of two tombs in the floor of the endo-narthex during the phase of use in the Byzantine Age. The traces of red ochre (fig. 6) found on the ceiling are from a prehistoric age, while traces of plaster above the architrave are attributed to reuse of the room during the Middle Ages.

Fig. 6 - Traces of red ochre found on the ceiling of the endo-narthex (photo Unicity S.p.A.).



  • BONINU A., SOLINAS M. (a cura di), La necropoli di Sant'Andrea Priu, Macomer, 2000.
  • CAPRARA R., La necropoli di Sant'Andrea Priu, Sardegna Archeologica. Guide ed itinerari, Sassari 1986, pp. 3-73.
  • CORONEO R., SERRA R., Sardegna preromanica e romanica, Milano 2004, pp. 61-68.
  • CORONEO R., Chiese romaniche della Sardegna. Itinerari turistico-culturali, Cagliari, 2005, pp. 55-56.
  • SPANO G., Catacombe di Sant'Andrea Abriu presso Bonorva, in Bullettino Archeologico Sardo, II, pp. 170-179.
  • TARAMELLI A., Fortezze, recinti, fonti sacre e necropoli preromane nell'agro di Bonorva, collana Monumenti antichi dei Lincei, Roma, 1919, coll. 765-904.