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date: 15 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The archaeology of Sardinia is characterized by complex architecture and a rich figurine tradition. The visual narrative is a focal point of life in the pre-Nuragic and Nuragic phases, and a key element of ideology. Figurines first appear in the Middle Neolithic. They become an integral part of cosmology until the Early Copper Age, after which there is a period where figuration (but not representation) is no longer in use. Figurines reappear in the Nuragic period. At this time they are almost exclusively made of metal, with a few stone figurines from Monte Prama. The secondary agency of bronze figurines (bronzetti) is a powerful element in the performance of social relations. This chapter reassesses the role of figurines by (a) situating them within their social contexts in increasingly complex societies; (b) tracing the nature and timings of their appearance and disappearances; and (c) examining the role of visual imagery in establishing and maintaining dominant symbol systems.

Keywords: Sardinia, bronzetti, Neolithic, Copper Age, cosmology, ideology, Nuragic, performance, secondary agency, symbol systems

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