The archaeological area of Santa Anastasia: the village and well

The village and well

The archaeological area of Santa Anastasia with four nuragic wells, of which only the one fully excavated can be visited, has to be considered as a unique site in the whole island, since it is the only one to be inside a town.

The village, which had both civil and religious functions, has been built from the so-called period of “Late Bronze Age” (XIII-XII century BC.), when there were approximately 1,300 years to the birth of Christ and 600 to that of Rome. It was used as worship area even in the post nuragic and then Christian periods. During the years when this village was built, in large part under the modern houses of the village, Moses led the Jews out of Egypt and in Greece flourished the city of Mycenae.

The large and impressive sacred well was excavated for the first time by the archaeologist Taramelli in 1913, and was originally placed inside the church of Santa Anastasia.

It has a length of about 12 meters, is made with blocks of basalt and limestone and is oriented in a north-east, southeast direction. It consists of a circular room, deeply built into the ground, where there are 12 steps to access, covered by a tholos, a burial structure characterized by its false dome created by the superposition of stones. The sacred well was known in recent times as “Funtana de is dolus” (that means “source of pain”) because the water, coming from a nearby spring and channeled from an opening at the base, was considered healthy and able to cure various diseases. Another visible well, but not yet visited, is placed on the right of the church of Santa Anastasia and it is oriented symmetrically to the main well, which is about 10 meters far. The excavations around the church revealed some huts that returned pottery and bronze items, exposed in the town museum of Villa Abbas and in the National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari.

The church

The Santa Anastasia church is one of the oldest churches of Sardinia and its foundations are upon the remains of a nuragic settlements. The first dates back to around 500 AD, when Rome and its empire are crumpling definitively, Europe and the Mediterranean area are disrupted by invasions of Germanic peoples and Constantinople, the ancient Byzantium, is becoming more and more powerful.

In 1913, during the first archaeological excavations conducted in the area, the facade of the church, for whose construction was also used material from Nuragic buildings, was dismantled and withdrawn a few meters, where it is today. This is to bring outside the church the entrance of the sacred well.

On the right of the nave, there is a baptismal font from 1585. On the altar, a statue of the Madonna and one of Christ. On the left, near the entrance, there are some lined stone blocks which belonged to the outer cover of a second sacred well, located to the right of the church and represent, symbolically, breasts and bull heads.

Along the left wall, at the bottom, there is a sacred well used to draw water for common uses. It was originally located in the hut of the council of village leaders, partly visible today outside the church.

The wooden statue of St. Anastasia dates back to around 1600 located at the bottom right wall. This saint was a Roman woman martyred around 300 d.C, during one of the last emperor Diocletian’s persecution campaigns. His cult is still very much alive in the Orthodox Church and in ancient times was invoked by the Christians to dissolve the evil, to recover from physical and mental illnesses and poisonings, and as protector of pregnant women. It is traditionally depicted with a palm tree or a cross in his right hand, and a jar of medicinal products or a book in his left one.

The Pilloni house

At the entrance of the archaeological excavations of Santa Anastasia, The old Pilloni house probably dates back to the seventeenth century, even though there are no documents proving the exact date of construction. It has a Campidanese style, with all the typical environments of rural houses, like the stables, the barn and the granary.

Today this house is the ticket office to the archaeological site and a shop corner of books and local crafts but it is also a cultural center that regularly hosts events about the territory and its traditions and offers a space for exhibitions, multimedia and educational workshops.