Tharros (also spelled Tharras, Greek: Θάρρας, Ptol., Tarrae or Tarras) was an ancient city on the west coast of Sardinia, Italy, and is currently an archaeological site near the village of San Giovanni di Sinis, municipality of Cabras, in the Province of Oristano. It is located on the southern shores of the Sinis peninsula, that forms the northern cape of the Bay of Oristano, the cape of San Marco. Tharros, mentioned by Ptolemy and in the Itineraries, seems to have been one of the most important places on the island.
Archaeological research done in the area of Tharros has established that in the eighth century BC the town was founded by Phoenicians. On the remains of a former village built by the nuragic peoples (1900-730 BC) on top of the hill called Su Muru Mannu they founded a tophet, an open air sacred place common for several installations of Phoenicians in the western Mediterranean, and seen as a first sign of colonization and urbanization. Excavations have shown that from the eighth century BC until the abandonment of Tharros in the 10th century the place was inhabited, first by Phoenicians, then by the Punics and then under Roman domination. The town was the capital of the medieval Guidicato of Arborea, a Roman/Byzantine relict state from the 9th century until 1070 when Orzocorre I relocated to Oristano under pressure of Saracen raiders. The town was effectively abandoned at this time or shortly thereafter. The site was used for centuries after that as a quarry for building materials for the surrounding villages and towns. Certainly there has always been a strong Sardic element during the whole time of its existence. An inscription records the repair of the road from Tharras to Cornus as late as the reign of the emperor Philip. The Antonine Itinerary correctly places it 18 miles from Cornus and 12 from Othoca (modern Santa Giusta near Oristano).
The area is now an open air museum and still excavations are done bringing to light ever more details of the past of this town. What is to be seen is most of the period of Roman domination or early Christianity. Amongst the interesting structures is the tophet itself, the bath installations, the temple foundations and a part of the area with houses and artisan workshops.
- Depalmas, A. and R. T. Melis, "The Nuragic People: their settlements, economic activities and use of the land, Sardinia, Italy." In Landscapes and Societies: Selected Cases, Eds. Martini, I. P. and W. Chesworth. Springer Science+Business Media, New York: 2010.
- De la Marmora, Voy. en Sardaigne, vol. ii. pp. 359, 477.
- Itin. Ant. p. 84; Ptol. iii. 3. § 2.
- Acquaro, E.; C. Finzi (1986). Tharros. Sassari.
- Osborne R. and B. Cunliffe, ed. (2005). Mediterranean Urbanization 800-600 BC. New York.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911: "Tharros"
- On the prehistory and history of Sardinia, Tharros
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1854–57). "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.
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