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The network of the ancient catacombs of Rome was used as a burial place, in particular during the early Christian period. The total number of catacombs in Rome is more than 60, they reach 150-170 kilometers in length. Most of the catacombs are located along the Appian Way. The catacombs are a wide system of underground passages, often forming labyrinths. For burials, niches of various sizes were made in the walls. Today almost all the niches of the catacombs are empty and open, but also closed ones have survived.
The first catacombs appeared in the pre-Christian era at the gates of Rome. The origin of the catacombs remains a mystery to this day. Scientists agree that the catacombs are ancient underground routes of communication or the remains of ancient quarries.
Burials in the catacombs were formed from private land holdings. The owners built solitary graves on their plots, or family crypts, where only their family members were allowed. In the future, their descendants, who converted to Christianity, allowed fellow believers to be buried on their site.
In the II century, Christians adopted the custom of burying the dead in the catacombs. In the 5th century, the catacombs were significantly expanded, and new ones appeared.
From the 4th century, the Roman catacombs lost their significance and were no longer used for burials. In the 5th century, burials here completely ceased, but the catacombs gained popularity among pilgrims, who, when visiting the tombs of the saints, left various inscriptions and images next to them.
The existence of the catacombs has been forgotten for 600 years. In the 16th century, Onuphrius Panvinio began to study the catacombs. After examining the early Christian and medieval writings, Onuphrius compiled a list of 43 Roman burials, however, only the catacombs of Saints Lawrence, Valentine and Sebastian were found. In May 1578, during the excavation work carried out on the Salyar road, stone slabs were discovered, painted with various images and letters. Then they thought that they had stumbled upon the Priscilla catacombs, and after opening they were again buried under the rubble, and re-excavated only in 1921.
There are several types of catacombs in Rome:
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Topic: Roman catacombs in Italy, Rome resort.