Catacombs

Noah Hamilton, Clint Harris, Matt Patton

What are Catacombs?

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Catacombs are underground burial spaces most of which were created after the overcrowded of many public commentaries and the best-known of them were built by Christians in ancient Rome and in Paris. Catacombs is Latin for "among the tombs."

Christian Beliefs

  • When a Christian dies, it is seen as the end of his/her life on earth. A funeral is held for friends and family to grieve for the person who has died and give thanks for their life.
  • Often, the deceased will leave a will concerning what they want to be included in the funeral service (hymns, prayers) and will also say whether they wanted to be buried or cremated.
  • The funeral is held about a week after death. It can either take place in a church or at a crematorium.
  • During the funeral the priest will usually open and end the service by reading from scriptures.
  • The priest will also talk about the person who has died. Reflecting on the person's life and their role in the Christian church.
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Roman Catacombs

  • In the first half of the second century, Christians started burying their dead underground.
  • The oldest tunnels date back to the first century. "The Jewish community in Rome built them as cemeteries.
  • In Ancient Rome, it was not allowed for bodies to be buried within the city walls. So while most pagans cremated their dead, Christians, who were not legally allowed to practice their religion, turned to underground cemeteries
  • The use of catacombs in Rome expanded during the 2nd and 3rd Centuries, as the illegal religion of Christianity grew.
  • After Christianity was legalized in 313 AD, funerals moved above ground, and by the 5th Century, the use of catacombs slowed .
  • The Rome catacombs then fell victim to pillaging by German invaders around the early 9th Century. As a result, many statues of Christian martyrs and saints were moved from the catacombs to churches in the city. Eventually, the underground tunnels were abandoned altogether


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Catacombs near Rome

Paris Catacombs

  • Since roman times, Paris has buried its dead outside of the city, but habits changed with the rise of Christianity and its practice of burying its dead under and around its churches.
  • By the 10th century, many of Paris's cemeteries were well within the city and eventually because of their location in the cities , were unable to expand and became overcrowded.
  • It wasn't until the late 18th century that they decided to use old abandoned underground mine outside of Paris. It is estimated that over 6 million people were buried in the catacombs of Paris.The skeletal remains were sorted and stacked neatly by type, modeled after the example set by Rome



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Catacombs near Paris

Catacomb Designs

Catacombs are almost always built underground, usually carved out of bedrock. Catacombs often consist of long, narrow passage ways with galleries that held the exposed human remains. At other times, the dead are buried in vaults or chambers. Usually the designs were for the wealthy, while the pooe were simply placed on top of each other in galleries. There is often no ventilation or lighting systems in the catacombs, creating a toxic and dangerous environment..