The image of mother and child is strongly linked in western minds to the Mary and Jesus of countless paintings and sculptures in museums and churches everywhere in Europe. Perhaps the most famous one is Michelangelo's Pietà in St Peter's in Rome, where the child has become a slender adult.
So this pre-Christian version of a similar story, of a mother who holds in her lap a son who has been killed in battle, is especially moving.
It was found in Urzulei, near Nuoro in the heart of Sardinia, and may be seen in the Archaeological Museum of Cagliari, where it is described as female goddess. It dates from the 8th to 7th century BC. But the doyen of Sardinian studies Giovanni Lilliu called it 'The mother of the slain man', and even uses the word Pietà in his description of what he called a young aristocrat. It is only 10 centimetres high.