MUTSEU: A Subterranean World under the Church of St Eulalia

Archaeological Area, Area archeologica, Cagliari, Sardinia

The St Eulalia complex in the medieval district of Marina in Cagliari, is a curiosity.  There is a church round the back and there is a treasury upstairs from the archaeology site.  The whole complex is referred to as MUTSEU.

The archaeological area of St Eulalia doesn’t just date from one period – it spans from the 4th century BC to the 19th century.  The most impressive and obvious part of the site, though, is Roman, with a cool road slicing its way through the stones.

In the Late Punic age (4th/3rd century BC) the area of St Eulalia was situated on the outskirts of Krly, the attractive Punic name for Cagliari. Around the 4th/5th century AD, the area became residential but in about the 7th century most people abandoned their homes due to piracy.  Gradually, the whole area was abandoned.  It was with the arrival of the Catalan-Aragonese in 1326 that the area was redeveloped.  During this period a small church was built, dedicated to Barcelona’s patron saint, St Eulalia.

Extensions carried out in the 17th century led to the discovery of a well, used during late antiquity.  In the 17th and 18th centuries, crypts were built under the floor of the church.  It was the re-discovery of these, in 1990, that led to 20 years of excavation.

Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

Fragment of a marble head, unknown date, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

Bone pins, Roman era, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

The sacred area, 4th/3rd century, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia.  This part of a sanctuary dedicated to a Punic god also had a thesaurus, a small well was for donations.  307 bronze coins dating from the 3rd century BC onwards were found in the thesaurus.

An open-air pit, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia.  The cuts on the rock represent the oldest human involvement in the area.  It was probably used as a quarry until the 4th/3rd century BC.  Later, when the sanctuary was built, the cuts in the rock were filled with calcareous powder so as to get a flat floor.

Columns from the colonnade, 4th/5th century AD, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia.  The colonnade extended well beyond this site.  It is thought that it connected the port with the residential area.

Some pots next to the water tank, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia.  Beneath the floor is a bottle-like tank and there are still grooves visible from the ropes used to draw up the water.  When the tank was discovered, it seemed to be covered with a cap.  Inside, excavators found fragments of urns as well as a money-box and hoard from the first half of the 5th century.  These was probably buried in response to Vandal raids.

Antefix, 1stBC-1st AD, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

Antefix, 1stBC-1st AD, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

Showing the interesting layers of the earth beneath the city, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

Rubble from the area of the greater crypt, 17th/18th century, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

Bottom of the well (or is it the moon?), Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

Limestone blocks left during re-building work, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

Roman road, probably 4th century AD, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia.  It was originally 4.20 metres wide but later it was restricted to about 1.20 metres to allow more space for the houses built on either side.

A jumble of stones, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

Lamp from Africa, 4th-7th century AD, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

Looking along the length of a Roman road, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

Solid Roman building work, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

A building from the 6th/7th century, prior to the abandonment of the area, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

Remains of a Roman drainage stystem, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

Some Roman steps leading to a house, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

A well, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia.  It was located in the internal courtyard of a house and fed by an underground spring.

Looking back over the site, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

Lovely Roman road slabs, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

A Roman road, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

A Roman drain coming from under a house, Archaeological Site of St Eulalia, Cagliari, Sardinia

So In Summary

There is something quite exciting about entering an archaeological site under a modern city.  The last time I did that was in Naples, again under a church, and although this isn’t as big, or as impressive, as the Greco-Roman streets under the church of San Lorenzo Maggiore, it is fascinating.  And, if you visit when there’s not really anyone else there, it’s kind of eerie…

Further Information & How To Get There

Please click here for the information on my MUTSEU post.

 

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