Rome, ancient Roman Vatican necropolis open to public


This is a video about the Vatican necropolis.

Reuters reports:

Vatican unveils Roman necropolis

Lovers of Roman-era art and archaeology can thank the Vatican‘s parking problem for the discovery of one of the ancient world’s best preserved necropolises, right inside the tiny city-state’s walls.

The necropolis has opened to the public three years after it was unearthed by workers who were breaking ground for a new garage to ease the Vatican’s dearth of parking space.

“We found the kind of things that have usually been lost in past excavations in Rome,” Giandomenico Spinola, director of the excavation and restoration works, said.

One of the novelties of the necropolis, located along what was once the ancient Via Triumphalis (Triumphal Way) that Roman warriors used when returning from conquests, is that it offers a mixture of burial sites of both rich and middle-class Romans.

“History is not just made up of generals and kings,” Paolo Liverani, another member of the Vatican team that led the restoration project near St Peter’s Basilica, said.

“This is not your usual necropolis in the centre of Rome. It’s the only one like it.

“To find something similar, you have to go all the way to Ostia,” he said, referring to the archaeological site at the ancient seaport west of the city.

The excavations have brought to light some 40 mausoleums and over 200 single tombs arranged on multiple levels, most well preserved and dating between the end of the 1st Century BC to the start of the 4th Century AD.

A landslide at the end of the 2nd Century covered the site and helped its preservation.

Rich Roman, Poor Roman

The more simple tombs include funerary altars with terracotta urns that held ashes of those cremated, lamps, and holes from where garlands were hung.

Alongside tombs of ordinary, middle-class Romans – one a “tabellarius” (letter carrier) and another a “hortator” (circus horse trainer) – rest finely sculpted sarcophagi of Romans with more money.

The floor of one of the up-scale mausoleums is decorated with a preserved black-and-white mosaic of a drunken Dionysus, the god of the vine, held up in a vineyard by a young satyr.

The mosaic was restored in the Vatican Museums restoration laboratory and placed back in its original location.

One of the intricately sculpted sarcophagi includes a figure of a person in prayer, indicating that he may have been a wealthy Roman who converted to Christianity before the emperor Constantine made the new religion legal in 313 AD.

“This is a work in progress,” Francesco Buranelli, director of the Vatican museums, said.

Indeed, some of the skeletons that have been unearthed – including that of a small boy holding an egg in his hand – are still half buried, making a visit to the site a slightly eerie but highly realistic experience.

Visitors to the necropolis, which is covered by a newly constructed building, can walk over it on steel catwalks which offer an excellent view of the ruins.

See also here.

Grave of St. Paul found in Rome? Here.

Researchers have identified what is believed to be the world’s earliest surviving Christian inscription, shedding light on an ancient sect that followed the teachings of a second-century philosopher named Valentinus: here.

Analysis of plant, animal and human remains from Portus, the maritime port of Imperial Rome, has reconstructed for the first time the diets and geographic origins of its inhabitants, suggesting a shift in food resources following the Vandal sack of Rome in AD 455: here.

Researchers successfully reconstructed anthropic influences on sedimentation, including dredging and canal gates use, in the ancient harbour of Portus — a complex of harbour basins and canals that formed the hub of commerce in the capital of the Roman Empire. The findings suggest that the Romans were proactively managing their river systems from earlier than previously thought — as early as the 2nd century AD: here.

3 thoughts on “Rome, ancient Roman Vatican necropolis open to public

  1. Mussolini home Jewish graves opened
    Catacombs under dictator’s residence being restored

    (ANSA) – Rome, July 26 – The Jewish catacombs under Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s Rome villa are being restored and readied for visitors. “It’s going to take several months to prepare the site and make it safe,” said the head of Italy’s Jewish Cultural Heritage Foundation, Bruno Orvieto.

    “We have to be very careful because there are delicate wall paintings down there that date back some 1,800 years,” he stressed.

    “We must also take care to respect Jewish rituals regarding all of the 1,500 tombs,” Orvieto added.

    However, a sneak preview of the 3rd and 4th century AD catacombs will be possible on September 2, when the European Day of Jewish Culture will be celebrated in 30 countries, including 55 sites around Italy.

    The six-mile-long network of catacombs – in which Mussolini had a bomb shelter built during the Second World War – are a little-known feature of Rome.

    However, some scholars believe they may actually predate the famous Christian catacombs that are dotted around the Eternal City.

    Villa Torlonia, the grand neoclassical residence where Mussolini and his family lived between 1925 and 1943, was recently restored after decades of neglect.

    There are plans to build a Shoah museum in the villa’s famous landscaped park.

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  3. Pingback: Ancient Roman women priests-controversy catacomb on the Internet | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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