1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tharros

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THARROS, an ancient town of Sardinia, situated on the west coast, on the narrow sandy isthmus of a peninsula at the north extremity of the Gulf of Oristano, now marked by the tower of S. Giovanni di Sinis. It was 12 m. W. of Othoca (Oristano) by the coast road, which went on northward to Cornus (a milestone of it is given in Corp. Instr. Lat. x. 8009), and thence to Turris Libisonis. It was of Phoenician origin, but continued to exist in Roman times, as the inscriptions show, though they give but little information (Mommsen in Corp. Instr. Lat. x. 822). It was destroyed by the Saracens in the 11th century. Scanty traces of Roman buildings may be seen, and an ancient road paved with large blocks of stone. A part of the site of the town is now invaded by the sea. The church of S. Giovanni di Sinis is a heavy building of the 8th (?) century a.d. originally cruciform, with a dome over the crossing; the transept sand dome are still preserved, but the nave with its two aisles is later. It is naturally built of materials from the old town. Close to it is a watch-tower and a spring of fresh water. The importance of Tharros may be inferred from the extent of its necropolis, which lies on the basaltic peninsula of S. Marco to the S.; on the summit of it are the remains of a nuraghe. Casual excavations are mentioned under the Spanish viceroys, but regular exploration only began in 1838, when the Roman tombs were examined. In 1850 Spano excavated many Phoenician tombs; they are rectangular or square chambers cut in the rock, measuring from 6 to 9 ft. each way, in which inhumation was the rule. The objects found—pottery, scarabs, jewelry, amulets, &c.—were of considerable interest. In 1851 Lord Vernon opened fourteen tombs, and after /that the whole countryside ransacked the necropolis, without any proper records or notes being taken, and with great damage to the objects found. Some of these objects are in the museum at Cagliari, others in private collections, and many scarabs are in the British Museum, all of which by the coins found with them are dated later than the Roman occupation (Catalogue of Gems, London, 1888, pp. 13 sqq.). In 1885–86 regular excavations were made, the results of which may be seen in the museum at Cagliari. One tomb contained some fine gold ornaments, with Roman coins of the 1st to 3rd century A.D. (F. Vivanet in Notizie degli Scavi, 1886, 27; 1887, 46, 124). The objects, like those found at Sulcis, show considerable traces of Egyptian influence, but are probably all of Phoenician importation—the theory of the existence of Egyptian colonies in Sardinia being quite inadmissible. Some 3 m. to the N. is the church of S. Salvatore, with underground rock-cut chambers below it, used as a baptistery (?) by the early Christians, though the walls are decorated with paintings of a decidedly pagan nature.  (T. As.)