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Sanisera Fieldschool 2010, session 4: Christian Catacombs, by Lisa Griffith
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Sanisera Fieldschool 2010, session 4: Christian Catacombs, by Lisa Griffith

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  • 1. Christian Catacombs
    By Lisa Griffith
    Session 4, 2010
  • 2. Similarities: Pagan and Early Christian Burials
    Early Christian funeral structures evolved from Roman pagan funerary architecture
    Both rituals required a burial place and a place for memorial services
    Funeral banquet
    Standard architectural elements for both Roman and early Christian burials were:
    Clearly identified tomb – occasionally with a table top
    For the banquet either a tomb chamber with mourners’ benches or couches, or a separate room
  • 3. Roman pagans favored burial in family groups regardless of religious belief
    Christians, by 200AD required burial apart from pagans
    Roman lower classes were generally cremated and remains were placed in a columbaria
    Christians did not believe in cremation and needed an inexpensive alternative since most were not wealthy
    Burial location had to accommodate large Christian congregations
    Above-ground cemeteries
    Underground catacombs
    Differences: Pagan and Early Christian Burials
  • 4. Catacombs
    First built in late 200s, early 300s AD
    In areas where property values above ground were high
    Soft rock for low labor costs
    Only built in Sicily, North Africa, Naples and Rome
    Abandoned after late 500s, early 600s AD
    Land values collapsed and labor force decreased due to political and economic catastrophes
  • 5. Fromclasslectureby Prof. Nicola Denzey, Harvard University
  • 6. Fromclasslectureby Prof. Nicola Denzey, Harvard University
  • 7. Fromclasslectureby Prof. Nicola Denzey, Harvard University
  • 8. Fromclasslectureby Prof. Nicola Denzey, Harvard University
  • 9. Fromclasslectureby Prof. Nicola Denzey, Harvard University
  • 10. Fromclasslectureby Prof. Nicola Denzey, Harvard University
  • 11. Fromclasslectureby Prof. Nicola Denzey, Harvard University
  • 12. Fromclasslectureby Prof. Nicola Denzey, Harvard University
  • 13. Fromclasslectureby Prof. Nicola Denzey, Harvard University