The Monte D'Accoddi ziggurat on Sardinia. Source: Pierluigi Tombetti

Monte D'Accoddi: A Mesopotamian Ziggurat on Sardinia?


The site of Monte D'Accoddi on Sardinia is one of the most extraordinary mysteries of modern archaeology. It’s a real Babylonian style stepped pyramid that stands on a millenary plain as a reminder of ancient rituals and lost civilizations. Sardinia reveals itself to be a treasure chest forgotten by time that is worth exploration.

Monte D'Accoddi, Sardinia. (Author provided)

There is a really unique site not far from Porto Torres in north-western Sardinia - it is a pyramidal structure called the Prehistoric Altar (or Megalith) of Monte D'Accoddi, which has no equal in Europe. Due to its forms and measures it has always been likened to a Babylonian ziggurat (stepped pyramid), with a large front ramp for access to the highest level.

The Monte d'Accoddi Archaeological Complex

The entire archaeological area, extending over several square kilometers, has megalithic architecture more or less contemporary to the stepped pyramid. The Monte d'Accoddi complex is prehistoric, dating back at least to the fourth millennium BC - therefore, it’s pre-nuragic. The Sardinian ziggurat is accompanied by a series of cult and residential structures in the surroundings.

The Prehistoric Altar. (Author provided)

Excavations, which started in the 1950’s, have shown that the great structure of Monte D'Accoddi was built as a truncated pyramid , about 27 meters (88.58 ft.) wide and 5 meters (16.40 ft.) tall, which in its original form was topped by an enormous altar to preside over sacrifices. Nowadays, traces remain of it in the plastered ochre painted walls.

In the course of its history the pyramid was abandoned and rebuilt several times. Around the third millennium BC the structure was covered by another building that was made of large processed limestone boulders, which gave it the shape we see today.

The ramp up the Sardinian ziggurat. (Author provided)

New Archaeo-Astronomical Studies and Surveys

Despite the initial skepticism of traditional scholars, a team of scientists led by the well-known Professor Giulio Magli, physicist, mathematician, and archaeo-astronomer at the Milan Polytechnic, investigated the measurements and orientation of the pyramid. They found similarities between it and Egyptian and Maya constructions. The results of these surveys have been published in the prestigious Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry Magazine (MAA), published by The University of the Aegean since 2001.

Looking from the top of the pyramid at the great menhir towards the south east, it is possible to trace the so-called "stop points" of the Moon, Sun, and Venus, i.e. the points at which they stop on the horizon. These three heavenly bodies are affected to a minor extent by the phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes (due to the oscillation of the earth's axis over the millennia) and can be observed more or less in the corresponding celestial areas in which they were stationing at the time of the construction and reconstruction of the site.

The hypothesis put forward by the amateur astronomer Eugenio Muroni is very interesting. According to Muroni, the altar of Monte D'Accoddi was oriented towards the constellation of the Southern Cross , which is no longer visible because of the precession.

5000 years ago, however, the Southern Cross was visible at these latitudes and the theory seems to receive support, although not definitive, from the fact that a stele north of the monument has a Mother Goddess in the shape of a cross, not the usual human form. It is also known that the temple was dedicated to two moon deities, the male god Narma and his feminine counterpart the goddess Ningal.

Statuette of Mother Goddess found on Sardinia. ( fotoember /Adobe Stock)

Walking on the pyramid gives an unusual emotive intoxication which is exacerbated by the feeling of standing on something unique, precious, and yet little-understood. This is also the way one may feel when considering the civilization who built the megaliths and left their traces throughout Europe, in the Mediterranean basin, the cromlech in Senegal and the Philippines , and then disappeared without leaving anything but gigantic structures as a testimony of their passage on Earth.

The Omphalos

There are other structures around the pyramid. The Omphalos, or navel of the world, the large round stone visible in the following images, was brought to its present location several years ago. It was found in the nearby field, where there are other megalithic elements that have not been sufficiently investigated. During transportation, the stone broke and today it is possible to observe the large fracture.

The Omphalos. (Author provided)

Nearby there is another round stone that is similar in form but smaller in size. Both may refer to the attempt to create a center for contact between the divine and the Earth; a center where the gods can interact with their followers, a navel of the land of men, whose umbilical cord was cut in ancient times, but from which it is possible to communicate with the celestial gods, according to ancient traditions.

The Sacrificial Altar or Dolmen

Another interesting structure to the east of the pyramid is the so-called sacrificial altar , a tiny dolmen formed by a slab of limestone about three meters (9.84 ft.) long that rests on supporting stones and reveals a series of holes. Most scholars believe that animals were tied above this stone (the holes were used for laces) and it was intended for sacrificial offerings.

The so-called sacrificial altar. (Author provided)

In fact, the holes seem to have been built for this purpose and there is also a sieve to let the blood flow into the lower chamber under the slab. There are seven holes, which could indicate an astronomical reference to the open star cluster of the Pleiades , which is found on many plates throughout Italy, especially in Valle d'Aosta. This number may also be a reference to the sacred numerology that is often seen in these ancient civilizations.

The Menhir

The presence of a menhir, or single erect stone which is also made of limestone and shaped and squared in the classic form of Sardinian menhirs, is really remarkable. Usually they are smaller, measuring 4.40 meters (14.44 ft.) tall, with a weight of more than five tons. Often these stones are related to phallic rituals, typical of Mesopotamia as the sacred poles of Baal.

The Menhir. (Author provided)

In the Middle Ages they were used by sterile women as vectors of magical force: the women rubbed their bellies on the surface with hopes that the spirit who lived in the stone could bless the family with a son. It is thought that the menhirs were one of the ways in which megalithic cultures imagined life after death; the deceased entered the stone and lived in it - with more or less the same meaning as cypresses associated with ancient cemeteries.

Thousands of Shells

All around the outside of the pyramid you can find small whitish shells that traditionally are associated with sacred offerings. They are everywhere. Over the centuries, the local populations, the sons and heirs of those who officiated ceremonies on the pyramid thousands of years ago, have gathered here, perpetuating rituals lost in time.

Unanswered Questions

The impression that the site arouses is remarkable: but what is a ziggurat pyramid doing in Sardinia?

The site of Monte D'Accoddi, Sardinia. (Author provided)

No archaeologist has found an adequate answer: some claim it is a common structure of the ‘ Homo religiosus’ across the Earth, and that the construction is an elevated temple meant to bring human beings closer to God.

Pyramidal structures have existed for thousands of years and can be found in several countries, but the uniqueness of Monte D'Accoddi lies in the fact that it is the only example of a ziggurat style stepped pyramid in Europe.

Little is known. Little has been studied. Such is the way with most of Sardinia’s ancient history.

Aerial view of Monte D'Accoddi, Sardinia. ( maurosanna /Adobe Stock)

Funds are Needed

Some time ago I was with my wife in this wonderful land and by chance we came across the discovery (or rediscovery) of the so-called Giants of Monte Prama . I was excited, as were the archaeologists and the inhabitants of the area and I wrote an article because no national media in Italy at the time seemed to realize the extraordinary nature of the discovery - the oldest statuary in Europe. It has partly rewritten history.

It was only after the article that was published on the site got tens of thousands of visits in a few hours that someone seemed to notice the discovery with some mention in the most important newspapers; but that led to very little.

Sculpture, Giant of Monte Prama, warrior, Sardinia, Italy, Nuragic civilization, Bronze Age. ( DedaloNur / CC BY SA 3.0 )

In Italy, unfortunately, adequate funds are not allocated to local associations and universities, and in many cases they have to deal with the preservation of cultural heritage practically on their own. It always hurts me to see these things. For example, at the archaeological park of Pranu Mutteddu I saw the guide, an archaeologist, forced to work alone, freeing the big menhirs from the earth and raising them alone with just his arms.

I talked to him and he explained to me how things really are. He’s a person who, for pure passion for history and love of his land breaks his back and gets his hands dirty by putting megalithic structures back on their feet, and he deserves all the support and honor that is available. He completes a task that does not belong to him but he carries it out with dedication and commitment at a very high personal price.

It would be good to try to bring together enthusiasts and researchers from every nation, contact patrons and financers in Europe and beyond; to create an enthusiastic and competent community able to find means and people to collaborate with the local authorities in order to proceed with investigations and excavations that would lead to the enhancement of a territory unparalleled in the world .

Top Image: The Monte D'Accoddi ziggurat on Sardinia. Source: Pierluigi Tombetti

By Pierluigi Tombetti

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