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Graveyard jaunt in Vatican

Digging in Rome reveals ancient graveyard




October 10, 2006

A tour of the graveyard may not be a good idea for many. But f you have the inclination, head for Vatican. Going by the reports from Rome, visitors will soon be able to descend into an ancient world of the dead. Vatican is showcasing a newly unveiled resting place that used to be a graveyard in the days of yore.

The discovery of the latest tourist attraction three years ago was accidental. While constructing a parking lot, workers unearthed the necropolis. And now, it is all set to open to the public. The burial sites, ranging from simple terra-cotta funerary urns with ashes still inside to ornately sculptured sarcophagi, date from between the era of Augustus (23 B.C. to 14 A.D.) to that of Constantine in the first part of the 4th century can be found in the latest hotspot.

Hop into this netherworld and one can find walkways, skeletons, including that of an infant buried by loved ones who left a hen's egg beside the body. The remains of the child, whose gender isnít known, were discovered during the construction of the walkways, after the main excavation had finished.

Archeologists say that the buried men and women there came from the upper-class Romans . There were also simple artisans, with symbols of their trade amidst the rich dead.

Archaeologists seem to have found a gold mine of information on the life in those days. The burial sites indeed help in the documenting of the middle class. You don't construct history with only generals and kings, said one among them.

Interesting discoveries are being made as the necropolis has been prompting more insights. One among them goes thus: Among those buried in the necropolis was a set designer for Pompey's Theater, notorious for being near the spot where Julius Caesar was stabbed to death. Decorating the designer's tomb were some symbols of his trade ó a compass and a T-square.

Have you planned your tour itinerary?


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