ON the windswept, heath-covered hilltops of Sardinia stand the remains of more than 6,000 cunningly contrived towers shaped like truncated cones. Built of squared volcanic rock, without mortar, these fortress towers, called nuraghi, range back to the time of ancient Troy, were in use until the culture of the Sards was finally smothered by Roman legions in the 3rd century B.C. Often fire-blackened on top. they may have served for signal fires, funeral pyres or simply strong points of repair for the fierce, feuding warrior clans. In the rubble at the base of...

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