The Nuraghi of Barumini

by Samuele Lilliu | 11 June 2017

Nuraghi are ancient stone structures built during the Bronze age by the Nuragic civilization and are widely scattered throughout Sardinia.

  • Client: Local Authority
  • Budget: £2000
  • Location: Barumini - Sardinia
  • Producer: Samuele Lilliu
  • Camera operator: Samuele Lilliu
  • Editor: Samuele Lilliu


If you’re looking to explore the ancient sites of Sardinia, the Nuraghi are a must-see. These ancient stone structures, built by the Nuragic civilization from the Bronze Age, are scattered throughout the island and are a fascinating window into the past.

I had the chance to visit, explore, and map the nuraghi scattered across Barumini during my Easter holiday in 2017. I used a DJI gimbal and a Canon 80D to capture moving shots, and my DJI Phantom 4 to take drone shots of the ancient sites. The footage I captured was 8-bit, which was quite a challenge to edit. I quickly learned that working with 12-bit and higher makes life much easier!

When it comes to making videos, there are a lot of technicalities to consider. One of the most important is the bit depth of your footage. The bit depth determines how much colour and detail can be captured in an image. The two most common bit depths are 8-bit and 10-bit.

For example the typical bit-depth for Netflix is 8 bit. However the streaming platform is taking it up a notch by introducing premium bitstreams for select titles. Premium features such as 10-bit bit-depth, 4K resolution, high frame rate (HFR) and high dynamic range (HDR) are available for select titles. This means that viewers can experience the best possible viewing experience, with the most vibrant colours and sharpest images. The 10-bit bit-depth, for example, allows for a wider range of colours, while 4K resolution provides four times the resolution of standard HD. HFR and HDR provide an even more immersive viewing experience with smoother motion and greater contrast.

Now it is important to notice that the Netflix’s 10-bit depth refers to the finally exported video. The issue comes when colour correcting and colour grading the footage. It’s there that you need to have flexibility.

At a basic level, 8-bit and 12-bit are simply different ways of storing information. In a 8-bit video footage you get 2^8 = 256 colours for red, green and blue channel. However with 12-bit you get 2^12 = 4096 colours for each channel. This means that 12-bit footage can store more information than 8-bit footage, allowing it to capture more colour and detail.

When it comes to editing, 8-bit footage can be a challenge. Because it stores less information than 12-bit, it doesn’t give you as much flexibility when it comes to adjusting and correcting. 12-bit footage, on the other hand, offers more options for making changes and corrections. This makes it easier to colour correct, sharpen, and add effects.

So, when it comes to choosing between 8-bit and 12-bit footage, the answer is simple: 12-bit is the way to go. It offers more colour and detail, more flexibility when it comes to editing, and a higher quality end-product. Of course, it’s important to factor in the amount of data it takes up. But overall, 12-bit footage is the way to go.


On the island of Sardinia stand the ruins of thousands of stone towers called Nuraghi. The Marmilla region has been a key location for archaeological research following the excavation of the Nuraghe in the town of Barumini. The territory of Barumini includes 27 Nuragic sites of various kinds.

We decided to take a run around some of these majestic towers located at the boundaries of Barumini.

These massive truncated cones once stood up to several meters high and were held erect by the sheer weight of their roughly shaped stones. Laid in circular tiers and stepped back from the bottom of the tower to its flat top, the stones enclosed beehive-shaped vaults.

The Marfudi nuraghe was built with large, polygonal and round-shaped basaltic stones. It can be accessed from a narrow doorway and contains a circular chamber originally covered with a false vault ceiling.

The number of peer-reviewed publications on Nuragic Sardinia is limited. Elsevier Scopus lists only 47 peer-reviewed articles on the topic. Most literature seems to be in the form of books. The contributions from Giovanni Lilliu have probably been the most remarkable. Despite the number of excavated sites across the island, the function of Nuraghi remains a matter of debate.

Nuraghi have been interpreted as fortified buildings like the mediaeval castles, family residencies, symbols of power, territorial markers, and storehouses.

The Masseti nuraghe has two towers connected by a corridor. Excavations conducted in the 19th century revealed a bronze two-edged axe, wild boar teeth, and deer horns.

It is believed that the Nuragic civilization dates back to at least the Middle Bronze Age period (between 1600 and 1500 B.C.). Despite the several excavations, Nuragic chronology is still poorly defined. Proto-nuraghi are considered to be the earliest form of nuraghi. Tholos nuraghi show one or more towers. Complex nuraghi are believed to postdate the construction of single-tower ones.

Apparently, Nuraghi were no longer built since the Final Bronze Age (between 1200 and 1020 B.C.). During this period, Nuragic civilization underwent a series of profound transformations and decline.

The nuraghe of Santu Luxiori is located in an area with Roman settlement ruins and the remains of a medieval church.

The towers of Sardinia were wonders of antiquity. Timaeus, a Greek historian of the.fourth century B.C., thought they were linked with the Mycenaean civilization that preceded the classical Greek culture in the eastern Mediterranean. The vaults within recalled the domed tholoi, or burial chambers, of Mycenaean Crete. Native legends in Sardinia regarded the towers as monuments of an early and happier era, when the island was governed by wise and powerful men.

The Surdelli nuraghe is a mono-tower with a diameter of 9.5 meters. The entrance roughly faces South. It is about 3 meters tall from ground level. The inner part of the tower, which is 2.5 meters thick, is covered with collapsed walls and soil. The outside is made of eight to eleven regular rows of squared calcareous stones, placed in Opus Quadratum without the use of mortar. The area is also full of pottery, indicating that this was probably a relatively large settlement.

Perhaps the Romans had the best name for the nuraghi. They called them Castra or fortresses. This term reflects the Romans’ first-hand experience with the towers, gained in the conquest of Sardinia that began in 231 B.C. To us no less than to the ancients these structures seem more the work of heroes than of men.

Remains of a micro-village, which is now destroyed probably because of intense farming, surround the Sa Zepara Nuraghe. Mildstones, pestles, a javelin tip, and clay pottery were discovered nearby.

The Urru Nuraghe is a complex nuraghe made of several towers. Unfortunately, this building appears almost completely buried or destroyed. A careful survey would be required to clarify its exact planimetry. The great number and scattered distribution of nuraghi seems to suggest that the Sardinians had not achieved an urban culture. They were probably organized in clans. Each clan might have had its own nuraghe, which furnished refuge to its members. To guard the pastures and grain fields, the towers were built preferably on heights. They stand often within sight of one another and always close to springs and rivers.

We conclude our trip with Su Nuraxi. The nuraghe at Barumini represents the peak achievement of Nuragic Civilization and shows clearly the succession of distinct periods of development. To reach the central fortress one needs to pass through a labyrinth of circular walls. The most striking feature is the way the huge basalt blocks forming the central tower fit together. Four turrets surround the main tower. They are connected by underground passages, testimony to the skill of its architects.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that unfortunately pseudoarchaeology has been creeping in Sardinia in the past decades. Common topics would include Sardinians conquering Europe, the identification of Sardinia as the mythical land of Atlantis, the Nuragic civilization being wiped out by a huge tsunami, skeletons of ancient giant humans, Nuragic architects being aided in their development by Ancient Aliens, and so on. While pseudoarchaeology might sell books, it actually misrepresents the past and misleads the public. Nuragic civilization and architecture are already attractive by themselves without these cult theories.