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Art and Death in Late Neolithic Sardinia: The Role of Carvings and Paintings in Domus de Janas Rock-cut Tombs

  • Guillaume Robin (a1)

Abstract

Sardinian Neolithic rock-cut tombs are not merely underground repositories, but complex and dynamic ritual architectures whose sequence of chambers was designed to host elaborate programmes of death ritual. The internal walls of about 250 of these tombs are decorated with carvings and paintings depicting architectural structures, cattle-head motifs and geometric designs. Research has often focused on classifying the motifs into typo-chronological categories, and little attention has been paid to their architectural setting and how art actually interacts with the spaces and structures of the tombs. How were art and architecture combined to create a setting appropriate for deathways? The present article results from a systematic review of this art and discusses patterns in the distribution and position of the motifs inside the tombs. Motifs were repeatedly placed at a few specific locations, suggesting that they played an active role in standardized ritual uses of the tombs. It is argued that art significantly contributed to structure spaces, sequence rituals, shape the ceremonial experience of the tombs, and was therefore a key agent in Late Neolithic deathways.

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Art and Death in Late Neolithic Sardinia: The Role of Carvings and Paintings in Domus de Janas Rock-cut Tombs

  • Guillaume Robin (a1)

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