New Archaeological Finding in Rome

Following the collapse of part of the road on Via di Centocelle in Rome, archaeologists representing Underground Rome discovered perfectly preserved tunnels leading to ancient catacombs, where intact bones of Romans who died hundreds of years ago were unearthed. The finding is of huge importance to archaeology due to the perfect state of preservation of the underground site, although the road collapse did leave a vast crater spanning some 10 metres!

So, what are the catacombs of Rome and why are they important? They are ancient underground burial chambers, which are most famous as Christian tombs and are extremely important to early Christian art thanks to their frescoes and sculptures dating back to 400 AD. They also give a glimpse back to different historical eras and there are several fascinating tours available that take you to the best preserved sites, which we highly recommend if you have an interest in ancient Rome and are visiting the city.

But how did these tombs come about? Well, originally, Romans cremated their dead and collected the ashes in funeral urns, which were placed in specially created tombs. However, as the Roman Empire flourished it began to be influenced by other civilisations, including the Egyptians, who often buried their dead in coffins. In fact, the early Christians refused cremation, instead entombing their dead in chambers as an imitation of Christ and the Apostles. And so underground catacombs were constructed and, to date, more than 40 have been found around Rome, connected via a maze of tunnels extending more than 150 km over multiple levels.

 

Did you know..?

One of the oldest laws of Rome, called the “Twelve Tables”, states “Hominem mortuum in urbe it seppelito neve urito", which translates as “No dead man may be cremated or buried in the city”. As a consequence, ancient cemeteries are located outside Rome’s ancient city walls.

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