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The islands of the western Mediterranean were a refuge for peoples whose cultures had struggled for footing on the mainland. They are rich in archeological treasures from the Neolithic, Copper, and Bronze Ages, including megalithic temples on Malta, the nuraghes of Sardinia, and sanctuaries and cult sites on Corsica. Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Crusader knights, and Turks, among others, fought over these islands, ruled them, and also left behind monoliths, monuments, tombs, and temples.
Archaeologist Robert R. Stieglitz, a specialist in ancient maritime interconnections, explores the cultural legacies of little-known prehistoric islanders through their remarkable architectural and artistic creations.
9:30 to 10:45 a.m. Megalithic Monuments
The prehistoric megalithic builders on Sardinia and Corsica erected portal tombs, standing stones (singly as monoliths and in astronomical alignments), elaborate stone circles, and rock-cut chamber tombs.
11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. The Enigmatic Temples of Malta and Gozo
Remains of more than 20 temple complexes and two subterranean rock-cut communal burial grounds have been found on these two small islands. Folklore holds that a giantess built some of the temples for a fertility cult on Gozo.
12:15 to 1:30 p.m. Lunch (Participants provide their own lunch)
1:30 to 2:45 p.m. Nuraghe Civilization on Sardinia and Corsica
Sardinia has thousands of nuraghi sites, large towers constructed with superimposed vaulted chambers and elaborate fortifications, which evoke the architecture of Mycenaean Greece. There are also impressive graves known as giants' tombs and remarkable sacred wells.
3 to 4:15 p.m. Phoenicians and Carthaginians in Sardinia
The Phoenician–Punic settlements on Sardinia included harbors, mining towns, and inland estates. The remains offer unique evidence of commercial and religious life, including clues to a controversial funeral rite.
Stieglitz is an emeritus professor at Rutgers University who has excavated at harbors in Greece and Israel and leads archaeological tours in the eastern and western Mediterranean.
Visit Sardinia and Corsica on this fascinating voyage—Hidden Treasures of the Mediterranean: A Voyage to Spain, Italy, and France.
Visit the Smithsonian Journeys page to see more