Session no. 3, 2011: Early Christian Catacombs, by Alesha Klein

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  • 1. Early Christian Catacombs
    Necropolis Session #4 2011
    Alesha Klein
  • 2. The word catacomb is derived from the Latin ad catacumbas, meaning “at the hollows,” a phrase that referred to the chambers at a hollow south of Rome.
    In its simplest form, a catacomb consisted of several underground galleries and chambers in a rectangular or grid plan. Many hallows were cut in the walls, one above another, to receive the bodies of from one to four family members.
    http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/rome-catacombs
  • 3. What are these cat-a-combs?
    cemeteries of the early Christians and contemporary Jews, arranged in extensive subterranean vaults and galleries. Besides serving as places of burial, the catacombs were used as hiding places from persecution, as shrines to saints and martyrs, and for funeral feasts
    Columbian Encyclopedia
  • 4. The first significant Christian catacombs were excavated in the 2nd century AD.
    Originally they were carved with a soft volcanic rock, on the outside boundaries of the city walls.
  • 5. Why would they have them?
    • Non-Romans, many of whom had elaborate burial rituals, were dumped in a generic mass grave (called a necropolis).
    • 6. Christian belief in the bodily resurrection led the early Christians to reject this practice and bury their dead instead. 
    http://iometria.com/fotografia/2008/06/19/necropolis/
  • 7. When it was lost…
    By the 10th century the catacombs were typically abandoned and they remained forgotten.
    In the disturbed period when Rome suffered waves of barbarian raiders, the catacombs were filled in to prevent desecration, their entrances sealed, and the remains of the martyrs transported to places of safety.
    From the 16th century, abandoned catacombs were gradually restored by the Roman Catholic church.
    http://www.rotten.com/library/death/catacombs/
  • 8. Advantages
    The catacombs had some advantages: they were an idyllic way to strengthen the sense of Christian community in life and death and they provided quiet, out-of-the-way places for memorial ceremonies and displaying Christian symbols.
    http://faculty.etsu.edu/kortumr/11earlychristianity/htmdescriptionpages/04catacombs.htm
  • 9. As Christianity gained converts and burials multiplied, the catacombs were expanded into honeycombs of galleries.
    Many of the catacombs of well-known Christians were decorated with wall paintings that depicted Christian symbols, such as the fish, lamb, and anchor, or with biblical scenes.
  • 10. Works cited
    http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/rome-catacombs
    http://www.rotten.com/library/death/catacombs/
    Atlantic Monthly
    http://libweb.uwlax.edu:2109/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=376c7a2e-e12b-4f9a-97ac-12c1ee0c31c4%40sessionmgr111&vid=1&hid=103
    Colombian Encyclopedia
    http://libweb.uwlax.edu:2109/eds/detail?sid=1744e387-1267-4173-bfbd-f34ca528e8a2%40sessionmgr115&vid=1&hid=103&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d
    Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia
    http://libweb.uwlax.edu:2109/eds/detail?sid=a63a3602-150c-411c-b9a5-7205587bdd13%40sessionmgr110&vid=1&hid=103&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d
  • 11. THANK YOU
    The End