martedì 8 aprile 2014

More than two years ago at the Archaeological Museum “Sanna” of Sassari..

by Atropa Belladonna

It was October 29th, 2011, when I saw this written object in Sassari, at the National Archaeological Museum “Sanna” (figure 1). It was found in the nuragic complex of Palmavera (Alghero), that ceased to exist as such around the early Iron Age BC., without going through a so-called "phoenician" phase. 

From this blog, we have already "commemorated" this object, and I have nothing new to say: my questions to the Superintendance and to the Museum's director have remained unanswered, as well as others that I made on-the-site on the nuragic civilization, such as: why we are permanently told that there was no phallic cult in nuragic Sardinia, and here, in the same vitrine, there is a "phallic amulet" exposed (fig. 2)? One might think that this incredible island wants to maintain its secrests, but actually this applies more to the agencies that are devoted to study and divulgate its history. 

The only and sole answer that I (indirectly, of course) got, came from Raimondo Zucca (full professor at the University of Sassari and director of the Museum "Antiquarium Arborense" of Oristano): the written letters are just, according to him, the result of a game (a lusus) that the workers carried out during the excavations.
And I think this is more or less the end, or?

This "spindle whorl" (perhaps) is I hope still at the museum: unless the director has realized that to expose a "lusus of the workers" in a museum and with official inventory number, as if it were an authentic nuragic object, is a bit shameful.

Fig. 3 The inscribed "spindle whorl" from nuraghe Palmavera: at the bottom face  the inventory number  is visible. 

My questions to the Superintendance, to the director of the museum and to one of the archaeologists involved in three excavation campaigns at Palmavera (Alberto Moravetti) (2), were so simple that they can be regarded as fully naive: a. when and from whom exactly, and also in which part of the nuragic complex, was this object found?; b. do the archaeologist that found it or the curator of the museum that put it in place,  mention somehow the incised signs in a working-journal or a register? 
I thought that for an exposed object such information were easy to obtain, instead I met a wall of silence: better said, they answered me, with the exception of the archaeologist, but not to the questions that I made. They told me that this is a "very old find"  in ceramics, and if I needed something more they were surely ready to help me (but apparently not to help me with the information I asked). Raimondo Zucca is also not very helpful with his article: he says that the object was found more than 50 years ago (1): thanks, what should that mean "more than 50 years ago"? Antonio Taramelli was digging at  nuraghe Palmavera in 1905; the nuragic village around the nuraghe was partially excavated by Guglielmo Maetzke during 1961-1963; Alberto Moravetti, finally, was digging at the entire nuragic complex of Palmavera during three campaigns: 1976-77, 1979, 1986-91 (2). So, if we trust R. Zucca's words, 2012-50 = 1962, the object was found by Taramelli inside the nuraghe or by Maetzke in the village. This was precisely what I wanted to learn: because Antonio Taramelli was digging in the most ancient part of the complex (XV-XIII century BC) (3). Given that this "spindle whorl" is definitely unusually large in diameter, I am inclined to believe that this is the same object reported by Taramelli in is 1909 paper (fig. 4)  (3).

Fig. 4.

Useless to say that Taramelli does not mention any sign (3), nor signs are visible for this old picture, otherwise I would not be lingering around with my naive questions: but had he seen signs or had he have the suspect that the object have been manipulated by the workers, I am sure he would have mentioned it, because he was indeed always very precise in his reports.  From this picture, the object is still unpolished and covered with a dark patina. This dark patina is only partially present on the exposed object, meaning that it was partially polished. But if the find is the very same, and if it was polished between the time that Taramelli took the picture of fig. 4 and the assembly in the vitrine by a still unknown curator, this means that the workers at the excavation cannot be responsible for the incised letters! 

Well, what to say: the hope remains that, sooner or later and before I get too old to understand it, somebody will give us an aswer and that the find will be analyzed with chemico-physical methods: as it happened with the nuragic boat model of Teti (4e,f) (figure 5). Those methods, to say it all, I trust a bit more than an eye-meter (1), even if it is the eye of a full professor. 

To learn more about this story see ref. 4a-d. To learn more on the nuragic, epigraphic boat model of Teti see ref. 4e,f. 

Figure 5: two images of the epigraphic nuragic boat model exposed at the museum of Teti (NU). From this site

(1) R. Zucca, "Storiografia del problema della ‘scrittura nuragica’" in Bollettino di Studi Sardi, Anno V, numero 5, dicembre 2012
(2) Alberto Moravetti, Il complesso nuragico di Palmavera, Carlo Delfino editore, 1992
(3) A. TARAMELLI, 1909, Il nuraghe Palmavera di Alghero, in “Mon. Ant. Lincei”, XIX, coll. 225-30.