BMCR 2020.10.60

Il tempio del Sardus pater ad antas: Fluminimaggiore, sud Sardegna

, Il tempoi del Sardus pater ad antas: Fluminimaggiore, sud Sardegna. Monumenti Antichi, 79 - serie misc., 24. Roma: Giorgio Bretschneider Editore, 2019. Pp. viii, 335. ISBN 9788876893186 $122.10.

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

The aim of the volume edited by Raimondo Zucca is to provide an updated overview of the state of knowledge on the temple of Antas (Mario Torelli, in the book’s Introduction, even calls it a re-edition (“riedizione”) of the archaeological evidence of the sanctuary of Antas). The results of the first excavations were published in 1969, but not all the findings were included therein. Some were published later, but scattered throughout volumes and periodicals, in some cases difficult to access. Furthermore, the progress of the research required a fresh reassessment of the previous results. The essays collected in this volume cover a wide range of topics, both revising former evidence and adding new insights on the history of the site and its district.

In “La storia delle esplorazioni e degli scavi” Zucca briefly retraces the history of research on the site of Antas, emphasizing the role of Alberto La Marmora, the first to bring attention to the temple (which he visited in 1838), and pointing out that, although this fact had so far escaped the attention of the scholars, in 1861 La Marmora had already correctly suggested that the Latin inscription mentioning the restoration of the temple should be dated to Caracalla’s reign. The history of the research at Antas is intertwined with the quest for the Σαρδοπάτορος ἱερόν mentioned by Ptolemy (3.3.2), whose location was the subject of extensive debate until 1966, when the discovery at Antas of a bronze tablet inscribed with a dedication to Sardus Pater settled the argument.

The contribution by the late Paolo Bernardini (“La necropoli nuragica”) deals with the necropolis of Antas and the issue of its possible connection with the nearby sanctuary. Through comparison of the tombs of Antas (which he dates to the 9th/beginning of the 8th century BC) with those of Monte Prama, Bernardini assesses a difference in the absence—in the former— of evidence pointing to a heroization of the dead. He denies, therefore, that the cult of Sid and later Sardus Pater at Antas may be related to an earlier form of ancestral worship, and consequently rejects any relation between the iconography of Sid and Sardus Pater and the spear-wielding figurine found in one of the tombs (9-10). Mention must be made that a connection between the necropolis and the later sanctuary is assumed by other contributors to the volume.

Zucca’s essay (“Il tempio di Sid Addir B’by”)   investigates the evidence about the Punic temple. To this purpose he undertakes a reconsideration of the report of the excavations directed by Ferruccio Barreca. Zucca works out a stratigraphic sequence structured into 15 stratigraphic units.  He acknowledgs that little is known of the Punic building phase besides the existence of a 16.25×9.30 m rectangular structure in the area of the Roman stairway. Indeed, according to Zucca the enclosure around a rock, interpreted by Barreca as an altar belonging to the Punic phase,[1] might instead date from the Early Iron Age. In addition to a parallel from Santa Vittoria di Serri, Zucca notes that the rows of the tombs in the necropolis seem to point towards it (42). The Punic phase is better known through its offerings, which appear to have been systematically destroyed. Scholars’ explications for this occurrence vary widely. Zucca suggests a relationship between this distruction and the uprising of mercenaries against Carthage in 240-238/7 BC. This hypothesis might also explain the recovery of several arrow-heads (and spears, if they were not rather offerings) (58).

In “Le iscrizioni fenicie”, the late Giovanni Garbini edits the corpus of the Phoenician inscriptions from Antas. All 30 of them had already been published, many by the same Garbini. Here, however, he provides many new readings and interpretations. With regard to ‘m, Garbini adopts the translation “amministrazione.”  He assumes that “administration”, when associated with a town name, indicated the Carthaginian aristocracy ruling the colonial cities (68). The word might occur also in inscription 24, according to the proposed new[2] reading ‘m mqm, “the administration of the sanctuary” (80). Garbini also addresses the issue of the history of the sanctuary, offering a new interpretation of the fragmentary inscription 4, which should be considered an official text referring to the erection of the temple. This could therefore be dated by the inscription, which Garbini places in the 5th century BC. According to Garbini, a renovation in the sanctuary happened about 300 BC, when the temple was devoted to Melqart ‘l hṣr, who is mentioned in inscription 25 (83-84). Garbini also adresses the issue of the systematic destruction of the offerings. He believes that Romanized Sardinians should be held responsible. Since inscription 19 points to a presence of Phoenician-speaking devotees as late as the 1st century BC, Garbini argues that the destruction probably took place in conjunction with the renovation of the temple at the time of Augustus, or slightly earlier (85).

The next contribution, “Le terrecotte architettoniche e la fase repubblicana” by Giuseppina Manca di Mores, offers an updated overview of the results achieved so far by her study of the architectural terracottas of Antas (which are currently awaiting restoration). Most of the items appear to belong to a decorative phase dating to the mid-2nd century BC, at the time of the building of the Roman temple. Other items may point to a restoration of the decoration of the temple at the time of Octavianus, as well as to later, more limited interventions (135). The complex 2nd century decoration included a terracotta relief, whose original placement is still unclear. According to the reconstruction proposed by Manca di Mores, four figures featured in the centre of this relief. They presumably represented Sid (with a feather-crown and possibly wielding a spear) and Heracles/Melqart (with leonté), and perhaps Eshmun and Astarte.

Mario Torelli (“Un frammento delle statue di culto”) offers a fresh reappraisal of a female marble head, previously[3] ascribed to a 5th century BC copy of the Aphrodite Fréjus. Rejecting this view, Torelli maintains that the head should instead be dated between the 2nd and the 3rd quarter of the 2nd century BC. Furthermore, he assumes that the head did not belong to an ex-voto, as previously supposed, but pertained to an acrolithic cult statue as part of a group representing the same gods featured in the terracotta relief studied by Manca di Mores. According to Torelli, the group included therefore at least three statues, namely those of Melqart-Heracles, Sid-Sardus Pater, and Ishtar-Astarte (he seems to doubt the reconstruction of a third male god on the relief).

Giorgio Rocco (“Il tempio romano”) and Monica Livadiotti (“Le vasche nella cella: una nuova ipotesi interpretativa”) contribute to a better understanding of the architectural development of the Roman temple, through a painstaking examination of the available evidence. As a result of it, some previous assumptions that certain architectural peculiarities of the Roman temple might be ascribed to a Punic tradition should now be discarded. According to Livadiotti, the two basins carved in the soil in front of the entrances to the two rooms at the end of the cella had no ritual purpose. They were part of an oil press realized by reusing the structures of the disused temple, as hinted at by a counterweight converted from a stone block previously belonging to one of the walls of the building. Rocco also assumes that the two side entrances to the cella are not earlier (and may even be later) than the restoration of the building accomplished under Caracalla. In Rocco’s opinion, a Punic tradition could only be traced back in the orientation of the building and in the use of a cubit of 51 cm (167). Rocco also suggests that the two rooms at the end of the cella were not really a double adyton. He suggests instead that the walls did not rise up to the ceiling of the cella, thus forming a podium upon which a group of acrolithic cult statues was set, corresponding to the group of deities represented on the terracotta relief.

“La statua del Sardus Pater a Delfi” by Mario Torelli focuses on the bronze statue of their eponym that the dwellers of Sardinia, according to Pausanias (10.17.1), dedicated at Delphi.  On the basis of the Periegesis, Torelli would placethis statue not far from the southeastern corner of the Delphic temple. Rejecting a previous dating of the dedication around  the end of the 5th century BC,[4] Torelli suggests a date after the Roman conquest of Sardinia, namely in the 2nd century BC, when the first Roman temple was built at Antas. In fact, he assumes that the statue must have been a copy of the cult statue of Sardus Pater, which was dedicated by the traditional elites of the old cities of the island, seeking for legitimation in the new order.

Attilio Mastino’s contribution “L’iscrizione latina del restauro del tempio del Sardus Pater ad Antas e la problematica istituzionale”, in addition to an edition of the fragments of the Latin inscription celebrating the restoration of the temple at the time of Caracalla, also deals with the history of the site and its broader historical context. At the time of Caracalla, as stated by Mastino, the imperial cult was associated with the cult of the Sardus Pater, as demonstrated by the dedication to the emperor, whose name occurs in the dative case at the beginning of the text. The restoration of the temple, in Mastino’s opinion, was prompted not by the emperor himself but by a provincial governor. Such was probably the Q(uintus) Co[ce]ius Proculus who, as claimed by the inscription, took charge of the restoration. Pointing out a previously unnoticed lacuna at the end of the second line of the text, Mastino suggests that Proculus’ title p(raefectus) p(rovinciae) S(ardiniae) might have appeared there.

Simonetta Angiolillo (“Gli ex voto in bronzo”) presents a set of bronze dedications, most of which, were found in 1966-1968 and lack an archaeological context (the rest were found in 1984-1994). Some of them represent gods (among which are Heracles, Mercurius, Iuppiter Dolichenus). These offerings are ascribed to the Roman period (cf. 241) and seem to have been intentionally destroyed (259). They appear therefore to preclude a destruction at the time of the uprising mercenaries. Of course, intentional destructions might have taken place at Antas more than once, especially in view of the presumable political significance of the sanctuary throughout its history.

“Conclusioni. Per una storia del santuario e del suo territorio” by Zucca traces the evidence for the history of minerary activities in the district of the sanctuary, while Mattia Sanna Montanelli (“Praedia e metalla del Sardus Pater. Res Caesaris e culto imperiale nei territori del Sulcis Iglesiente”) investigates the development and administration of the Roman imperial estates and mines in the Sulcis-Iglesiente area. A subject index completes the volume.

The book is well produced and well illustrated, and I noticed only a few typos, except for a certain amount in the Phoenician texts.[5] Arguably Garbini’s demise early in 2017 prevented him from reviewing the final draft (perhaps it would be advisable for the publisher to include an errata sheet).

The book edited by Zucca meets the need for a revised overall assessment of the evidence concerning the temple. The individual contributions are valuable treatments of a wide range of issues, and the volume achieves its goal of setting up a new starting point for further research on Antas, by providing the reader with plenty of new information and by removing several former incorrect assumptions.

 Table of Contents

Introduzione (Mario Torelli), p. VII
La storia delle esplorazioni e degli scavi (Raimondo Zucca), p. 1
La necropoli nuragica (Paolo Bernardini †), p. 7
Il tempio di Sid Addir B’by (Raimondo Zucca), p. 35
Le iscrizioni fenicie (Giovanni Garbini †), p. 67
Le terrecotte architettoniche e la fase repubblicana (Giuseppina Manca di Mores), p. 89
Un frammento delle statue di culto (Mario Torelli), p. 151
Il tempio romano (Giorgio Rocco), p. 163
Le vasche nella cella: una nuova ipotesi interpretativa (Monica Livadiotti), p. 185
L’iscrizione latina del restauro del tempio del Sardus Pater ad Antas e la problematica istituzionale (Attilio Mastino), p. 199
Gli ex voto in bronzo (Simonetta Angiolillo), p. 241
Praedia e metalla del Sardus Pater. Res Caesaris e culto imperiale nei territori del Sulcis Iglesiente (Mattia Sanna Montanelli), p. 267
La statua del Sardus Pater a Delfi (Mario Torelli), p. 281
Conclusioni. Per una storia del santuario e del suo territorio (Raimondo Zucca), p. 289
Indice per materie, p. 325


[1] Ferruccio Barreca, “Lo scavo del tempio”, in E. Acquaro et al., Ricerche puniche ad Antas (Studi Semitici 30), Rome 1969, pp. 9-46 (39-40).

[2] Cf. G. Garbini, “Nuove epigrafi fenicie da Antas”, Rivista di studi fenici 25 (1997), pp. 59-67 (pp. 62-64).

[3] M.A. Minutola, “Originali greci provenienti dal tempio di Antas”, Dialoghi di Archeologia 9-10 (1976-1977), pp. 399-438 (pp. 401-412).

[4] C. Tronchetti, “I rapporti fra il mondo greco e la Sardegna: note sulle fonti”, Egitto e Vicino Oriente 9 (1986), pp. 117-124 (“II. Sulla statua del Sardus Pater a Delfi”, pp. 121-123).

[5] Inscription 2, second line: YŠ‘ for YŠM‘; inscription 4, second line: ḤML’KT for HML’KT (idem in the commentary, p. 71); inscription 6, first line: DR for DR (same misprint at p. 289); inscription 19: SPN/T for ṢPN/T (at p. 78: EPT for ṢPT); inscription 25, third line: BKY SGR for BKRY SG; inscription 29, first line: S ṢD YSG for ṢD YṢG.