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The worship of waters: the Lumarzu spring

The fact that Nuragic populations were religious is proven by the holy buildings that can be connected with the worship of the waters, such as wells and springs. In the holy wells, a covered atrium with seat leads to the stairs, that descend to the point where the water vein rose, in an underground cell covered with a tholos. The springs have no stairs, as they are directly next to where the water vein rose and the underground chamber is a simple cell covered with a small dome or a simple slab. The nuragic people expressed their devotion to the gods of the waters by placing their offers inside these buildings, in particular votive bronze figures.

The holy Lumarzu spring is on the northern side of the Campeda high plain, at the edge of the Santa Lucia plain, close to the village of Rebeccu (fig. 1).

Fig. 1 - Location of the Su Lumarzu Spring (from Wikimapia; reprocessing by M.G. Arru).

It was reported for the first time by the archaeologist Antonio Taramelli, when some work was carried out by the owner of the land, Mr Rossi Gomez and published in 1919 together with drawings by Francesco Giarrizzo (figs. 2, 3, 4).

Fig. 2 - Perspective of the Su Lumarzu spring (by TARAMELLI 1919, fig. 24).
Fig. 3 - Layout of the Su Lumarzu spring (by TARAMELLI 1919, fig. 22).
Fig. 4 - Section of the Su Lumarzu spring (by TARAMELLI 1919, fig. 23).

The spring, made from regular rows of basalt ashlars created with care, intercept the abundant veins of water that spring from the rock and are collected through channels under the entrance floor, in a stone tub that is covered with a tholos, i.e. A dome, that juts out and is cut off by a horizontal basalt stone slab, in turn covered and waterproofed by layers of clay mixed with limestone dust (fig. 5).

Fig. 5 - The inner chamber (by MELIS, p. 18).

The rectangular entrance (atrium) with paved floor, was originally covered by a sloping roof. In the rear, there is a door that leads to the cell that houses the water collection tub (fig. 6).

Fig. 6 - The Su Lumarzu spring (photo by Cinzia Olianas

The benches on both sides (fig. 7) were probably used to place offerings for the gods; there is a small square niche in the left-hand wall. The main facade rises at the end of the atrium and still has a residual height of about 2 metres.

Fig. 7 - The atrium slab floor seen from above (by Boninu et alii 2012, p. 1461, fig. 3).

The only element that can be referred to worship is a miniature vase found by the land owner Mr Rossi Gomez, and published by Antonio Taramelli (fig. 8).

Fig. 8 - Miniature vase found at Su Lumarzu (by TARAMELLI 1919, fig. 21).

In his studies, Taramelli noted for this spring that it was frequented in the Imperial Roman era, while the cross engraved on the roof slabs on the inner summit of the tholos could refer to a later medieval or modern age.

In 2004-2005, archaeological survey and restoration work was carried out by La Sapienza University of Rome, together with the Archaeological Department for the provinces of Sassari and Nuoro. It has been possible to date the structure to a period between the Late Bronze Age (1200-1000 B.C.) and the early Iron Age (1000-730 B.C.). The intervention renovated the structure’s facade and the slabs in the front courtyard (fig. 9).

Fig. 9 - The structure before (left) and after (right) the renovation (by BONINU et alii 2012, page 1462).



  • BONINU A., IALONGO N., SCHIAPPELLI A., VANZETTI A., La fonte nuragica di Su Lumarzu, Bonorva (SS), in La Preistoria e la Protostoria della Sardegna, Atti della XLIV Riunione Scientifica (Cagliari, Barumini, Sassari 23-28 novembre 2009), Firenze 2012, pp. 1457-1463.
  • CANNELLA P., RASSU M., Fonti e pozzi sacri. Guida ai monumenti per il culto delle acque in Sardegna, Oristano 2015, p. 23.
    CAPRARA R., La necropoli di S. Andrea Priu, Sardegna Archeologica. Guide e Itinerari, 3, Sassari 1986, pp. 60-64.
  • CONTU E., Pozzi sacri: ipotesi ricostruttive, in Sacer, Bollettino della Associazione Storica Sassarese, VI, 6, Sassari 1999, pp. 125-148.
  • MELIS P., Bonorva, Su Lumarzu e il culto delle acque, in Bonorva, archeologia, Regione Autonoma della Sardegna, pp. 15-20.
  • TARAMELLI A., Fortezze, Recinti, Fonti sacre e Necropoli preromane nell’Agro di Bonorva (Prov. di Sassari), con rilievi e disegni del Prof. Francesco Giarrizzo, in Monumenti Antichi dei Lincei, XXV, 1919, coll. 816-825.