Archaeological Museum "Villa Abbas"
Since 1997 (the year of its opening), the Archaeological Museum "Villa Abbas" has been housed in a historical building from the early 1900s, formerly the town hall, the barracks and the school. It has been restored in the 1990s. This building stands on pre-existing nuragic and medieval structures, and probably represented, at least since the modern age, a crucial point for the management of the village community of Sardara, which can be reasonably believed to be organized around the urban sector where today the church of the Blessed Virgin of the Assumption is situated. Both the museum and the cooperative carry the name of a locality which, in the Middle Age, identified a settlement in the nearby thermal area and which probably developed already in Roman times ("Villa Abbas", in fact, means "city of waters" in Sardinian language). We remind you that the Villa Abbas Museum has a very rich bookshop where you can find, besides the ceramic objects offered here, many other gadgets and a vast collection of books on the history, art, archeology and anthropology of Sardinia, as well as a special section for children.
The museum exhibition
The collection, whose chronological reference period ranges from prehistory to the late Middle Age, is spread over two floors and includes the archaeological finds unearthed in the excavation campaigns carried out in the strip of municipalities which, from Sardara to Monastir, extend into the su-region known as Medio Campidano (the central part of the largest sardinian plain, in its south-western area).
The two floors of the museum are in turn organized into 8 rooms, each of which preserves archaeological finds from specific locations in the indicated territories.
Rooms I e II
Room I, known ad the “didactic room”, provides the visitors with the visual and conceptual tools for a correct and aware reading of the museum itinerary, and illustrates, in addition to a brief excursus of the different chronological phases of Sardinian history, the various processing stages of ceramics, an essential element of the material culture of alla civilizations as well as an important factor in chronological dating.
Inside the room there is also a reading space equipped with a rich library and an internet point available to visitors and non-visitors.
In Room II are exhibited the finds discovered in the archaeological area of Santa Anastasia, 200 meters away from the museum and which takes its name from the dedication of the Byzantine church built between the 5th and 9th centuries A.D. on the remains of the Nuragic settlement. Some are particularly noteworthy:
The first is a fragment of a ceramic vase bearing the stylization of an anthropomorphic figure, the most complete exemple of representation of the human figure on ceramics;
The bowl-pour, the only find found inside the sacred well and attributable to the complex Nuragic ritual which identified water (the object and instrument of worship) as a fundamental element;
Two bronze figurines (or “bronzetti”), one of which is zoomorphic (perhaps a dog or a deer) and one anthropomorphic, perhaps intent on playing a wind instrument and sitting on a structure that archaeologists have considered to be a hut.
We also note the presence, in each room, of graphic renderings of the various sites to which reference is made.
The Roman necropolis of "Terr'e Cresia" and Rooms III, IV and V
The Roman necropolis of “Terr’e Cresia” (lit. “Land of the Church”, in explicit reference to a rural area of ecclesiastical pertinence) is instead the site of interest of Rooms III and IV (Room IV is the first of the 2nd floor, immediately at the top of the stairs).
This sepulchral area, the use of which can be ascribed to a period of time ranging from the first century. B.C. to the 3rd century AD, has so far returned about a hundred earthen pit tombs of buried individuals, together with rich funerary outfits with objects of all kinds (jewellery, containers of body care products, coins, food remains, etc.), according to the rites of inhumation and cremation.
Room V contains the finds found in various sites in the Sardinian area, including perfect copies of the two famous bronze Nuragic archers accidentally found, in 1913, in a tomb on the northern edge of the town and datable to the 9th/8th century. B.C. The originals are kept in the National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari. These are two of the finest examples of small bronze sculptures from the Nuragic age.
Room VI or Castle Room
Through the sixth room, a notable leap forward is made, up to the late Middle Ages.
Here are in fact exhibited the materials from the excavation campaigns conducted at the Monreale Castle, a vast fortified complex consisting of an imposing keep, in a central position on the top of the Montis Regalis of the medieval sources, and a wall that incorporates a small village, elements that betray both the residential dimension and that of garrison and control of the territory.
The origin of the structure can reasonably be ascribed to the XII/XIII century, within the Giudicati period, but there is a certain date, 1275, as a moment of reconstruction or at least of enhancement, with the XIV and the first half of the XV century from consider as the moment of maximum use. The undisputed importance of the site in medieval times is given by its strategic position, which made it one of the pillars of the southern defensive line of the Giudicato d’Arborea, one of the four autonomous kingdoms into which Sardinia was divided as well as the longest-lived (it became extinct only in 1420).
Among the most valuable artefacts preserved in the room, the beautiful collection of Valencian majolica ceramic objects stands out, embellished with splendid enamelled decorations.
This is the case of the fine plate with cobalt blue decoration depicting a majestic bird (perhaps a peacock or a falcon) on a base of plant motifs known as anillos con discos.
The impressive quantity of imported materials returned by the excavation investigations that involved the castle, undoubtedly refers to the position of great importance that the island maintained throughout the Middle Ages, representing an essential port of call and a focal point of commercial traffic in the Mediterranean western.
Rooms VII and VIII
The last rooms, VII and VIII, keep the finds discovered in the territories of the band of municipalities between sardara and Monastir (in the direction of Cagliari).
Relevant, in Room VII, are the material productions of the Monte Claro and Campaniforme cultures (pre-Nuragic age), so called due to the particular shape of the artifacts attributable to it, which recall overturned bells (especially the “glasses”), as well as presenting specific decorative typologies obtained with different techniques (string, comb, shell).
Finally, in the last room (VIII) numerous finds from the Punic age from Serrenti and Furtei are kept, as well as objects referable to other Nuragic sites in the neighboring territories.
The Villa Abbas Archaeological Museum also has a path for the blind and visually impaired, which runs parallel to that for the able-bodied. It consists of a Braille writing system and a series of objects made to be read by touch, mostly reproductions of the most characteristic exhibits kept in the museum.