The public can now take a walk beneath Vatican City to an ancient burial ground first discovered during the construction of the Santa Rosa parking garage back in the 1950's by construction workers.
This ancient area beneath the Vatican opened to the public on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 for the first time.
Visitors can now walk around under Vatican City along a well lit pathway that winds its way through this ancient burial site. *Note, this area is not yet handicapped accessible.
The underground cemetery reveals individual tombs with amazing (now restored) painted tombstones and tiles. Also found among the tombs were cremation urns. Nearby charcoal, burnt pine kernels and pine-cone scales used in the clay furnaces to cremate the bodies were also found.
"The new tour route winds its way through the remains of the necropolis, offering visitors the chance to admire the cemetery as a whole, but also to appreciate with a close-up view of the numerous decorations: marbles, mosaics, frescoes, stucco returned to its former glory after the recent restoration. Among the significant innovations of the excavation we report the discovery of a designated area for cremations (ustrino), which are rarely preserved in complexes of this type. Two new stores were set up with a thematic criterion concerning the furnishings used for funerary rituals, personal belongings of the deceased, the different What to do for the burial or cremation burial. A third new showcase illustrates the stratigraphic excavation 2009-2011 according to the method of archaeologists, in order to show a real 'split' synthetic section of the excavation. Along the tour route were also exposed other finds from the nearby areas of same Necropolis no longer visible (Sector dell'Annona) or not normally open to the public (Sector Galea), in order to complement and further enhance the museum display on the site."
Numerous altars litter the underground ancient cemetery as well, which were found to contain 'offerings to the dead' in the first century A.D. (a custom at the time).
The visitors walking tour of this ancient site offers interactive touch screens along the way to learn more about what the visitor is viewing as well as the history discovered here.
For more information visit the Vatican Museum website: HERE
Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner
Vatican Museum link: http://mv.vatican.va/2_IT/pages/z-Info/Eventi/2013/MV_Info_Evento16.html
Photographs link: http://mv.vatican.va/2_IT/pages/z-Info/Photogallery/necropoli/index.html