Catacombs Essay, Research Paper
Underground burial was common practice among ancient Mediterranean cultures,
and therefore archeologist find underground burial tunnels in Egypt, Greece and many other
Mediterranean lands. Catacombs were mostly built for memorial services and internment
of the dead”(Catacombs1). There were a lot of uses for catacombs such as burial, celebration
of martyrs, and celebration of the deceased persons of each family.
There were two types of people who used the catacombs as burial grounds for
their dead. When Christianity was being preached in Rome by Peter and Paul, there already
there already existed in the pagan and Jewish catacombs (History1) The Romans Catholics
used cremation at first then switched over to the underground burial. Then the Christians
followed shortly after the Roman Catholics. The Christians did not follow pagan customs
because it involved cremation. The Christians preferred burial, just as Christ was. They felt they
had to respect the bodies that one day would rise from the dead. Over the years there were
as much as sixty catacombs found near and in Rome. There were approximately one million Christian tombs discovered alone. (History 1)
The catacombs were originally made for burial. The main religious groups at that
time that used them were the Roman Catholics and the Christians. The catacombs were
also used rarely for refuge when they had battles or wars. The opposing forces did not want to
invade the burial ground. It was thought to be very bad luck to disturb the dead. They were
afraid the spirits of the dead would haunt them.They also used the catacombs for anniversaries
of the martyrs and the other dead. Martyrs means somebody who chooses to
die rather than deny religious or political beliefs.
The catacombs were tunnels that expanded into smaller or larger tunnels or burial
places. There were rooms for all the dead they said that even if you were a slave you still
deserved to spend the after life in the catacombs The Roman Catholics and Christians could
not bury their dead In Compliance with the Roman law, which forbade the burial of the
dead within the city walls, all catacombs are located outside the city walls, all catacombs
are located outside the city, along the great consular roads, generaly in the immediate
suburban area of that age (Christian 1). Every catacomb that was build was some how
connected to a graveyard no matter where the catacombs was located. There was one
exception and that was that if it was only used for family and close friends. Slaves were
promised a place in the catacombs (History1).
Construction of the early catacombs began in the second century and was used
for both memorial services and interment of the dead. Some of the catacombs were on
four levels connecting a enormous system of galleries and linking passages with steep,
narrow steps. Bodies of the deceased were placed in niches, 16 to 24 inches high by 47 to
59 inches long cut from the wall of soft tufa rock. The bodies were fully clothed,linen and sprinkled with ointments to offset the decaying odor and sealed with a slab inscribed
with the name of the deceased, date of death and a religious symbol much like today s
tombstones (Catacombs1). Loculi ( recesses) were cut in the walls, one above another, to
receive the bodies of from one to four family members (Catacombs2 1). Over 60 catacombs
have been discovered beneath Rome,with approximately one million Christian tombs (History
1). The Christian catacombs, which have the most numerous, lagan in the second century and
the excavating continued until the first half of the fifth (Christian1). The catacombs of St.
Callistus served as the official burial ground for the bishops of Rome and the crypt of the popes
contains the tombs of several pontiffs (Catacombs 1). Many of the catacombs for prominent
Christians were decorated with wall paintings depicting Christian symbols, such as the fish,
lamb, and anchor, or with biblical signs (Catacombs2 1). “The word catacombs is probably
derived from the latin ad catacumbus, meaning At the hollows a phrase that refered to
chambers at a hollow south of Rome (Catacombs2 1). The Christian thought death was mearly
a Sleeping Place before they were brought back to life . By the third century the catacombs
were administered by the church. Persons of destination were buried in stone coffins or carved
sarcophagi placed in arches niches (Catacombs2 1). The catacombs were used up to the fifth
century and then ground burial became more and more used after a while (History 1).
There are still many undiscovered catacombs around the word there is so much
to do and so little money to spend on research . Various scholars began exploring the
catacombs, some whom literally fell into the catacombs by accident (Archeology 1).
Catacombs were found were found all around the Asian continent They were all considered
sacred and protected by Roman law (History 1). The crypt of the Popes alone tells us so
much of the history of the catacombs, the early Christians, and the Rome s bishop martyrs and
saints (Archeology 1).
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