Nora, Italy

Coordinates: 38°59′05″N 9°00′57″E / 38.984685°N 9.015860°E / 38.984685; 9.015860


Archaeological site of Nora, with the Spanish tower in the background.
Shown within Sardinia
Type Settlement
Cultures Phoenician civilization Roman civilization
Site notes
Excavation dates yes
Condition ruined
Management I Beni Culturali della Sardegna
Public access yes
Website Pula, area di Nora (Italian)

Nora (Nuras in the mediaeval Sardinian language) is an ancient Roman and pre-Roman town on a peninsula near Pula, near to Cagliari in Sardinia.[1]

In his Description of Greece, Pausanias, a Greek-Roman geographer of the second century, narrates the mythological foundation of the city: "After Aristaeus, the Iberians crossed to Sardinia, under Norax as leader of the expedition, and they founded the city of Nora. The tradition is that this was the first city in the island, and they say that Norax was a son of Erytheia, the daughter of Geryon, with Hermes for his father." [2]

The area was previously occupied by a village of indigenous Sardinians, but soon became an emporium and then a Phoenician city. Especially after the conquest of Carthage, Nora flourished, as (along with Bithia near Chia) it was the first stage on the sea route from Carthage to Sardinia and its most important city, Cagliari.[3] The Nora Stone, a Phoenician inscription found at Nora in 1773, has been dated by palaeographic methods to between the late 9th century and early 8th century BCE,[4] and has been interpreted as referring to a Phoenician military victory and conquest of the area.[5]

After a period of domination by Carthage, the town came under Roman control after the conquest of Sardinia in 238 BCE. The city is mentioned in the Tabula Peutingeriana, a Roman-period road map. It went into decline from the 4th century CE after the Vandal conquest of Sardinia. According to the Ravenna Cosmography, after the Arab conquest of Carthage the city lost its economic function and became a simple fort (Nora praesidium).[6] Nora appears to have been abandoned during the 8th century.[7] Its toponym, however, remained in the name of a curadoria (main administrative division) of Judicatus of Caralis at the beginning of the second millennium. Nora was an important trading town in its time, with two protected harbours, one on each side of the peninsula. Several different building styles can be seen in the excavated buildings.

Because the southern part of Sardinia is sinking into the Mediterranean Sea, a substantial part of the former town is now under the sea.[8] A similar fate has befallen nearby Bithia, which is now completely submerged.

A significant part of the town of Nora situated on land belonging to the Italian Army has not been excavated.

The ruins of Nora are an open-air museum, and the remains of the theatre are occasionally used for concerts in the summer.

Roman-Era Theatre


  1. Trudy Ring; Noelle Watson; Paul Schellinger (5 November 2013). Southern Europe: International Dictionary of Historic Places. Routledge. pp. 483–. ISBN 978-1-134-25958-8.
  2. (Ἑλλάδος περιήγησις Hellados Periegesis 10.17.5 μετὰ δὲ Ἀρισταῖον Ἴβηρες ἐς τὴν Σαρδὼ διαβαίνουσιν ὑπὸ ἡγεμόνι τοῦ στόλου Νώρακι, καὶ ᾠκίσθη Νώρα πόλις ὑπὸ αὐτῶν: ταύτην πρώτην γενέσθαι πόλιν μνημονεύουσιν ἐν τῇ νήσῳ, παῖδα δὲ Ἐρυθείας τε τῆς Γηρυόνου καὶ Ἑρμοῦ λέγουσιν εἶναι τὸν Νώρακα. τετάρτη δὲ μοῖρα Ἰολάου Θεσπιέων τε καὶ ἐκ τῆς Ἀττικῆς στρατιὰ κατῆρεν ἐς Σαρδώ, καὶ Ὀλβίαν μὲν πόλιν οἰκίζουσιν, ἰδίᾳ δὲ Ὀγρύλην οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι διασώζοντες τῶν δήμων τῶν οἴκοι τινὸς τὸ ὄνομα: ἢ καὶ αὐτὸς τοῦ στόλου μετεῖχεν Ὀγρύλος. ἔστι δ᾽ οὖν καὶ κατ᾽ ἐμὲ ἔτι χωρία τε Ἰολάια ἐν τῇ Σαρδοῖ καὶ Ἰόλαος παρὰ τῶν οἰκητόρων ἔχει τιμάς.
  3. Carlo Tronchetti, Nora, (1986, English edition), Carlo Delfino Editore, Sassari
  4. C. 825-780 according to Robin Lane Fox, Travelling Heroes in the Epic Age of Homer, 2008:120f and note p. 382; the stone is illustrated fig. 21
  5. Stephen L. Dyson; Robert J. Rowland, Jr. (10 December 2007). Archaeology and History in Sardinia from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages: Shepherds, Sailors, and Conquerors. UPenn Museum of Archaeology. pp. 106–. ISBN 978-1-934536-02-5.
  6. Ravennatis Anonymi Cosmographia, V,26, , p:500
  7. Nora, History of the first Sardinian Town
  8. Tourist information on Nora
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