Domus de janas: Sardinia history and legends

Domus de janas, SardiniaDomus de janas buildings are evidences of the Sardinian ancient civilization; a culture living in close quarters with Nature.

The folkloristic imaginary worked for century about this kind of building craved from the rocks and spread in the whole Sardinia, drawing legends still fascinating. The many openings starring the inland area of Sardinia, spooky access to the underworld, have been populated of supernatural creatures: the janas. According to the differing versions of the traditional tales, the janas are fragile fairies or awkward witches getting out from their lurk, the domus de janas (trad. houses of the fairies), only at night.

Beyond the old time’s charming narration there’s the archeology telling us another story. Another prehistory, indeed. The domus de janas are astonishing examples of underground burial structure of the pre-nuragic civilization. They’re dated back to the Ozieri and Beaker cultures and they’re probably been built between the 3,400 and 2,700 b.C. The artificial walls of the cave are often decorated with embossed magical symbols and red ochre painted.

Sardinia territory can count more than 1,000 domus de janas. A big part of them, a necropolis indeed, is in the archeological area of Anghelu Ruju, near Alghero. 36 burial site characterized by embossed stylized bull heads.

Another main area is the one near Bonorva: Sant’Andrea Piru. There you can find the “Tomba del capo” (Grave of the chief): a domus with 18 rooms, modified and used as church during the Roman and Byzantine era.

Pimentel, Villaperuccio, Ittiri, Sedini, Porto Torres: are other location where there are further examples of domus de janas.


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