The first men on the Island (500.000 B.C. - 10.000 B.C.) Stone tools found in Perfugas (SS) are the first traces left by man in Sardinia. They date from the Lower Palaeolithic (500000-100000 B.C.). Tools found in Oliena (NU) date from the Upper Palaeolithic (35000-10000 B.C.).
The Ozieri Culture (3500-2700 B.C.) During the Neolithic Age, the Ozieri Culture developed; domus de janas ("houses of the fairies") are the most characteristic monuments of this culture. There are more than 1.500 of these graves dug in the rock.
The population lived in villages, and was mainly made of farmers; they produced refined pottery and worked obsidian, which was exported to areas all over the Mediterranean. They worshipped the Mother Goddess and the Bull God, raised menhir, built dolmen and megalithic circles.
As from 2700 B.C., the peaceful Ozieri Culture was supplanted by belligerent cultures, which foreshadowed the beginning of the Nuragic Civilization.
Nuragic Culture (XVII Cent. B.C. - IX Cent. B.C.) Nuragic culture began approx. in 1600 B.C. The population was divided in tribes, which probably often came into conflict, and was ruled by "king-shepherds".
The most characteristic monuments of this period are nuraghi, truncated-conic buildings made of rocks, with a defensive purpose; sometimes the single towers were connected to each other by walls, forming complexes. The towers were high up to 18-20 m, and were rich in passageways, stairs and inner wells. There are more than 7000 nuraghi in Sardinia.
Nuragic religion was naturalistic, and water cults were extremely important, which explains the presence of well temples.
The "Tombs of the Giants" were megalithic graves, whereas "bronzetti" are characteristic decorative or "ex-voto" small bronze statues, which portray different subjects (warriors, animals, votive boats...).
The daring megalithic buildings, tombs and sacred wells, as well as the warriors portrayed by bronzetti, bear evidence to the fact that the Nuragic people were skillful architects and brave warriors.
They were also skilled sailors, as proved by the votive bronze boats and the nuragic pottery found in several areas in the Mediterranean. There is evidence that may prove that Pharaoh Ramses II's private guards were of Sardinian-nuragic origin.
The Phoenician Period (X Cent. B.C. - VI Cent. B.C.) Phoenicians arrived in the Island in the X Cent. B.C: they were merchants and sailors of Semite origin, coming from Lebanon. The encounter with the Nuragic population was probably peaceful, and the most ancient Sardinian towns were founded: Karalis, Nora, Bithia, Tharros, Sulci.
The name Sardinia (SHRDN) was used for the first time on Nora's Stele, a Phoenician sepulchral stone dating from the IX Cent. B.C.
The Carthaginian Period (VI Cent. B.C. - III Cent. B.C.) In 509 B.C., the Island was conquered by Carthage, the Phoenician colony in Africa. Carthaginians introduced their gods and religious customs, such as the Tofet, a worship place were human sacrifices took place, or, more probably, stillborn children were cremated.
The Roman Period (III Cent. B. C. - V Cent. A.D.)
In 227 B.C., Sardinia became a Roman province, but the Nuragic populations in the inner part of the Island fought violently. Turris Libisonis (Porto Torres) was founded, and other existing towns developed (Carales, Nora, Tharros, Forum Traiani-Fordongianus,...). Roman roads, theatres and towns are still visible throughout the Island.
The Vandalise Period (V Cent. A.D.)
In 455 A.D., Sardinia was conquered by the Vandals, who sent many bishops and monks in exile in the Island, but this did not prevent the persistence of Paganism.
The Byzantine Period (V Cent. - VIII cent A.D.)
In 534 A.D., Byzantium overcame the Sardinian and conquered the Island; between the VIII and IX Cent., Arab raids along the coasts began, and Byzantium abandoned Sardinia.
I Giudicato (IX Cent. A.D. - XV Cent. A.D.)
During the IX Cent., the Island was divided in 4 "Giudicato" - judgeships (Cagliari, Torres, Gallura, Arborea), ruled by Giudici (Judges). Sardinia was fairly independent in this period. It was almost a second Golden Age, after the Nuragic culture.
In this period:
- Sardinian language originated, with the same characteristics it has today;
- several laws, more modern than those in use in feudal European nations, were promulgated. The most important law code was the "Carta de Logu", whose writing out began with Judge Mariano IV d'Arborea, and was later completed by his daughter, Giudicessa Eleonora.
The Savoy (XVIII Cent. A.D. - XX Cent. A.D.)
In 1720, Sardinia passed to the piedmontese Savoy, after a short period under Austrian rule. The Savoy government was not enlightened: poverty and dissatisfaction caused rebellions, and the Piedmontese were banished for a short period from the Island.
Kingdom of Italy and Italian Republic (XX Cent. A.D.)
In 1861, when Italy was born, Sardinia was underdeveloped compared to other regions. In 1947, after WWII, during which Cagliari was bombed several times, Sardinia became an Autonomous Region, regulated by a Special Statute, in confirmation of its distinctiveness.
Pisa and Genoa (XI Cent. A.D. - XIV Cent. A.D.)
The progressive penetration of Pisans and Genoese caused the giudicati to lose their independence: in 1256 Cagliari, then Torres and Gallura were conquered.
The Aragonese and Spanish Period (XIII Cent. A.D. - XVIII Cent. A.D.)
The Giudicato of Arborea was the last to end, approx. in 1400, seized by the Aragonese. Sardinia became part of the Aragonese dominions in 1297, and in 1403 the Spanish age began. Three dark and oppressive centuries, which have left traces still visible today in the language, traditions and food.