The Museo Archeologico della Città – the City Archaeological Museum – houses the oldest evidence of human habitation in the area, from the protohistoric period to the Nuragic era and Phoenician and Roman times.
The exhibition focuses on three things that are of particularly significance for Alghero and the surrounding area: the sea, local lifestyle, religion.
The museum is located on Via Carlo Alberto, in the heart of the old city.
It is housed in a building that was recently restored, having once been the site of a monastery complex connected to the Church of San Michele.
The sea (Level I, Section I)
The Nuragic Village at Sant’Imbenia; the Roman Remains at Mariposa; the Mediaeval Remains at Cala Galera; the Post-Mediaeval Remains at Mariposa; the Fortified City.
It focuses on important archaeological sites with a close link to the sea.
The Nuragic village at Sant’Imbenia, in the bay of Porto Conte, was the oldest mooring point for the Phoenicians and the Levantine peoples in general, not just in northern Sardinia but in the entire island. The village that arose around the 14th century BC became the site of an important amount of trade with the East between the ninth and eighth centuries. Bearing witness to this are pieces of rare, imported Greek and Phoenician pottery that are displayed together with a display showing the main commercial routes of the period. The metalworking in the village is shown in a display containing a reconstruction of a section of the so-called “capanna dei ripostigli” (storage room hut), with two overlapping floors, below which are displayed amphorae containing bronze ingots for smelting, just as they were found during the archaeological dig.
For the Roman era, there are the remains of a wreck from the Imperial era which was found in the waters of Lazzaretto, and which shows the main means used to carry goods in the period. The display of the sea floor includes the amphorae which made up part of the load, and which transported fish encased in salt; also displayed are pieces of ceramic tableware, on-board instruments and fittings, the wood and metal parts of the boat, including the lead bilge pump. A panel shows the features of the wreck, and the sea routes that it was thought to have followed.
For the Middle Ages, the same themes are shown by the remains of the 13th-century wreck found in the waters of Cala Galera. The model of the sea bed on display shows the extraordinary load carried by the boat, consisting of ribbed amphorae and large Islamic earthenware jars with stamped decorations, most of which can be identified, which are unique in Sardinia and decidedly rare on the Italian mainland. Alongside the cargo there is a large amount of coral, pottery and instruments that were part of on-board equipment. A model of the kind of vessel has also been made.
For the post-medieval era there is a similar display focussing on the remains of two 16th-century wrecks, which were found in the sea in front of the Mariposa campsite, on the edge of the city.
In this case too, parts of the cargo and on-board equipment are on display including glazed pottery, metal and bone tools, containers made of plant materials for pitch, ropes and arms, but also parts of the wooden cladding, including its decoration.
The itinerary following the theme of the sea finishes with the birth of the fortified medieval city: a model shows the development and changes in the defensive walls until the 18th century and its relationship with the sea.
Local lifestyle (Floor I, Section II)
Neolithic Caves; The Neolithic Hut; The Village of Palmavera; The Nuraghe in Flumenelongu; The Roman Villa at Sant’Imbenia; The Medieval City.
The second theme, local lifestyle, understood in the broadest sense, includes the development of the ways that houses were constructed and the techniques used to do so, how settlements were laid out, their relationship with the region and the environment, the various aspects of life in different eras.
The itinerary opens with the oldest signs of life, both animal and human, in the area:
a screen shows which animals were present in the area in the Pleistocene period and where they were distributed (megaloceros cazioti algarensis and cynoterium sardus), and then continues with the earliest human use of caves, probably mainly as dwellings, in the early Neolithic to the Eneolithic: one display holds pottery from these places, especially the Green Cave, with evidence which can be traced back to the Early Neolithic. One of the cabinets holds a very interesting and extensive collection of pottery, with unusual stamped and carved decorations, which were once grave goods.
After the caves there is a model which shows a Neolithic hut, built on the floor plan of the domus de janas it was inspired by: the hut on show has the same features as domus I in Santu Pedru.
The Nuragic era is represented by the Flumenelongu nuraghe buildings, and specifically the village of Palmavera, one of the best known and most visited on the island. The features of the layout of the village and the construction techniques used in the buildings are pictured in reconstructions, examples of the kind of ashlar blocks used in Nuragic architecture, and a model of the Capanna delle Riunioni (meeting hut), which is the most important “public” building in the village of Palmavera.
Two cabinets also display objects from daily life, such as pottery, and metallic bone and terracotta tools. These document the inhabitants main occupations, from preparing food, to fishing and sewing. There are also the remains of animals, illustrating the natural environment, animal-rearing and hunting, and what people ate.
The large seaside villa at Sant’Imbenia shows the Roman era part of the exhibition, with a reconstruction of part of an interior. Large segments of stucco, painted plaster and mosaics from the building are on display, bearing witness to the grandeur and luxury of this elegant residence.
For medieval times and the modern age, the recent urban digs have meant that the development of the city can be shown, starting from the houses in the Jewish quarter. Also shown is the relationship with the local area, commercial links and the main kinds of work carried out, and this is done through an exhibition of objects from daily life and with large drawn reconstructions.
The world of the sacred and of death (II Floor)
Moulds of bull protomes from the domus de janas; Mother gods; The Necropolis at Anghelu Ruju; The Necropolis of Santu Pedru; The Nuragic Holy Well of the Very Pure Goddess and health-giving Roman cults; Funerary Stele; The Graves in the Roman Necropolis of Monte Carru; Medieval Graves in the Cemetery of San Michele (“Lo Quarter”).
The final section brings together the themes of worship and death, which are closely interrelated.
The itinerary begins with regions and Neolithic burials at the domus de janas at Anghelu Ruju and Santu Pedru, to show the complexity of the rituals, of the kinds of funeral, and the symbols which were represented there. The cabinets display original finds and copies of especially interesting elements which are held at the Museum of Cagliari.
The masculine symbols represented by bull horns in the domus have their female counterpart in some Mother Gods – there is one on display in a small cabinet.
For the Nuragic age, the reconstruction of the frontal view of the well of the “Purissima” shows the structure of the main kind of religious building of the time: the well temple. Votive material is on display, mainly anatomical parts and human figures, arranged as it was originally found. A display with other important finds, such as statuettes and masks, shows the ritual aspects linked to the “cult of water”. The same subject, with its reuse, introduces the theme of the sacred in the Roman era, in which the well continues to serve as a container for waters with therapeutic qualities.
In the case of the Roman era, the different kinds of burial and religious rites, both pagan and Christian, are shown using drawings, but also through the display of sandstone funerary stelae from the Carthaginian tradition, and the reconstruction with original elements of a chest tomb and a burial in an amphora. Other display cabinets hold finds, including personal ornaments, from the dig recently carried out at the necropolis of Monte Carru. For the Middle Ages, the graphic reconstructions and material that is on show in the display cabinets focus on the very recent discovery of the urban cemetery of San Michele (in the historic centre, adjoining the church of San Michele and next to the museum building), with its main features shown.
FULL TICKET € 5
REDUCED ENTRANCE € 4
Groups of at least 20 people (by reservation) Pensioners over 65 years of age Boys between 14 and 17 years SIO card holders
SCHOOLS € 2 | Groups of at least 15 people from schools of all levels
FREE | Disabled people + 1 companion; Teachers accompanying school groups; Journalists with badge; Museum operators, tourist guides and university researchers; ICOM members or other museum associations; Extraordinary free opening days
This site is closed in compliance with the national regulations of the DPCM of 3 december 2020 which provides for closures of cultural, archaeological and natural sites up to January 15, 2021
Tuesday> from 17.00 to 19.00
Wednesday> from 10.30 to 12.30
Thursday> from 17.00 to 19.00
Friday > from 17.00 to 19.30
Saturday and Sunday> from 10.30 to 12.30 and from 17.00 to 19.30