From Monte Sirai, a low elevation near Carbonia, the coasts and islands of Sulcis and the valley of Cixerri as far as Campidano can be monitored. The Neolithic and Nuragic civilisations that first occupied the area knew this and the Phoenician and Punic peoples who later settled along the access route to the sea and the plains also understood it.
On the plateau, the Phoenicians, who had built Sulky on the island of Sant’Antioco a few decades before and had become integrated with the Nuragic community, founded a town (750 BC) that lived in prosperity between the 7th and 6th century BC. In 520 BC it was occupied by the Carthaginians, who, after a period of decline, fortified it (mid-4th century) and completely rebuilt it (250 BC). The Roman occupation in the 2nd century did not affect the inner part: there are no other Phoenician-Punic colonies with evidence as complete as here.
On Monte Sirai, coloured by red stones covered in moss, there are houses, squares, a temple, a tophet and a necropolis (Phoenician shaft tombs and Carthaginian hypogea). At the entrance to the acropolis, there is the pomerium, an inviolable sacred boundary for the Phoenicians. The town extends around the fortified tower - built on a nuraghe - that had been a defensive fortress for centuries and became a temple in the 3rd century BC. The statue of Astarte, a Phoenician divinity, bears witness to this and is now kept at the Archaeological Museum of Cagliari. On the acropolis, the houses, consisting of rooms positioned around a courtyard, paint a picture of opulence, especially the Fantar and Lucernario di Talco houses, where a transparent mineral filtered the sunlight lighting up the rooms.
The boundary wall was reinforced by the Punics in 370 BC. The tophet, a necropolis for children, also dates back to the same years. In the urns, shaped like a covered pot, are the ashes of the deceased children buried with small animals, amulets, jars and jewels. There was a temple above it. Part of the tophet has been reconstructed in the Villa Sulcis museum of Carbonia, where you can use multimedia equipment to enter the Punic town. At the end of the 6th century BC, the types of funeral changed: from cremation in the Phoenician period to entombment in underground sepulchres with access corridors. The Punic necropolis had 13 tombs, eleven carved out of the tuff and two obtained from pre-existing domus de Janas.