filed under: Material Culture
Here's the beginning; click on the post title to read the rest.
In cemetery, clues to ancient Rome's middle class
By Frances D'Emilio, Associated Press | October 10, 2006
VATICAN CITY -- Visitors to the Vatican soon will be able to descend into an ancient world of the dead, a newly unveiled necropolis that was a burial place for the rich and not-so-affluent during Roman imperial rule.
The necropolis, which was unearthed three years ago during construction of a parking lot, will open to the public this week. One archeologist said yesterday that sculptures, engravings, and other objects found entombed with the dead made the find a ``little Pompeii" of cemeteries.
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 BC to 14 AD) to that of Constantine in the first part of the fourth century.
From specially constructed walkways, visitors can look down on some skeletons, including that of an infant buried by loved ones who left a hen's egg beside the body. The egg, whose smashed shell was reconstructed by archeologists, might have symbolized hopes for a rebirth, officials at a Vatican Museums news conference said yesterday.
Regarding the last paragraph quoted here: does anyone know of any parallels for eggs in funeral goods or visual art representing hopes for rebirth?