Friday, October 13, 2006

Ancient Cemetery to Open in Rome

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?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

re eggs

Art - you could argue, and some have, that the eggs on Artemis of Ephesus and Zeus of Labraunda are fertility and rebirth. There is also an egg-shaped cinerary urn in the British Museum.

Physical food and liquids were left at tombs and burials, to feed the dead in both Greece and Rome - eggs are on of the first solid foods given to children, so leaving them would be common sense. A bell is ringing somewhere in the back of my mind, but cannot think of any references off the top of my head.

Physical eggs from tombs - quick search of Compass at the British Museum comes up with Ostrich eggs from Ur - not much help I admit as they are vessels ...