The tombs of the giants, burial practices characteristic of the Nuragic civilization, were collective tombs that could contain a large number of corpses. They are composed of an elongated burial chamber, which in most cases terminates with an apse, and they are covered with horizontally laid blocks of stone. The most spectacular element is certainly the façade, which has at its center a stele, a large block of stone placed vertically and terminating normally with a roundish arched frame; on the sides of the stele, in a vertical position, are lower blocks which form an arch called exedra. Seen from above, the outline of the tomb recalls the head of a bull which was venerated by the ancient Sardinian people as a symbol of strength and fertility,. The name “tomb of the giants” was given in ancient times with the erroneous conviction that this imposing burial site was built to host gigantic beings. It was thought that only giants could have been capable to build such an imposing structure.
The Nuraghi, are stone towers shaped like the trunk of a cone. They were the center of the social life of the ancient Sardinians and they can be found throughout the island, some dating back to the second millennium B.C. There are 7,000 of them still standing but it is thought that in the past their number exceeded 20,000. According to scholars, nur, the root of the word nuraghe, is of primitive origin. It signifies a hollow mound formed by great blocks of stone. In 1997 UNESCO afforded the nuraghe (and therefore the Nuragic civilization) with the recognition of world heritage of humanity. Archeologists and historians do not fully agree that the function of the nuraghe was merely of military nature, that is for the patrolling and defense of the land and the resources. Many doubts still need to be clarified although it seems evident that the nuraghi’s function depended on the location where they were erected.
It is generally thought that the single towers located on the tops of hills, were look-out towers which could have visual contact from one to the other, whereas the larger complexes with multiple towers erected around a central courtyard had multiple functions related to being the center of the community. The multiple functions theory can also explain the dissemination of thousands of nuraghe along the coast: they were look-out towers (first defensive barrier and port patrol) and point-of-arrival and -landing for merchants arriving by sea. Reaching up to 20 meters of height, the towers stand in dominating positions, on hill tops, at the borders of plateaus, at the entrance of valleys or in proximity of natural harbors. Their walls can be up to four or five meters thick with an external diameter of up to thirty-fifty meters at the base, diminishing as they grow and forming a cone shaped trunk.