II. Typology. Obviously Christians had to keep within the laws that regulated funeral services in the Roman world. Above all, tombs had to be outside inhabited areas, whose boundaries were legally fixed by an ideal line called a pomerium. In great cities like Rome this was enlarged more than once, so that earlier burials can be found within the line of a later pomerium. From the latter half of the 4th c., Ethiopia Map Tourist Attractions this very old law was often transgressed in provincial cities: entire Christian necropolises are found, esp. in Africa, in the middle of inhabited centers. The characteristics of the early Christian cemeteries are more marked and more easily recognizable in the catacombs. While the majority of sub divo open-air’ cemeteries have been destroyed, underground funerary rooms, even when robbed, show an architecture, typology of tombs and often great wealth of decoration that clearly distinguish them from other monuments. We should not be astonished that the Christians developed subterranean excavation to such a degree. It occurred only in places where the nature of the ground allowed it, i.e., in volcanic regions or those rich in easily worked calcareous rocks. In such places the excavation of underground rooms for various uses long predated the coming of Christianity: as tombs among the Etruscans, very often for hydraulic or military use in Latium, and often created as cool places for recreation called cryptoporticos. Especially favorable for this purpose was tufa, a soft clay that becomes hard as stone on drying, easily worked yet strong enough for quite large rooms. The majority of the catacomb galleries are dug in this tufa, which had no commercial value. The theory that Christian underground cemeteries were implanted in earlier chambers excavated for other purposes is totally unfounded. Only rarely did this happen, e.g., setting up tombs in abandoned hydraulic chambers, either unmodified, as in the catacomb ad vicesimum near Morlupo, or enlarging the passages, as in the central gallery of St. Giovanni at Syracuse. Another quite frequent use was that of arenariae, old pozzolana quarries which, esp. around Rome, extended over an immense distance. Either finding them in abandoned areas, or having them put at their disposal by landowners, the Christians dug tombs in them, though the curved and irregular walls did not really lend themselves to the rational and ordered use of space that could be attained from galleries dug specifically for the purpose. Sometimes the beginning of an early Christian cemetery in an arenaria or other unsuitable place was caused by the presence of a martyr’s tomb, put there in time of emergency; such, e.g., at Rome, were the origins of the cemetery of Commodilla around the tomb of Sts. Felix and Adauctus, the cemetery of Cyriaca near the tomb of St. Lawrence and various cemeteries of the orbis christianus, created in stone or sand quarries, or, on the surface, in pagan areae as at Corinth, or in poor districts.
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