Catacombs
Overview
 
Catacombs, human-made subterranean passageways for religious practice. Any chamber used as a burial place can be described as a catacomb, although the word is most commonly associated with the Roman empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. Many are under cities and have been popularized by stories of their use as war refuges, smugglers' hideouts, or meeting places for cults.
The first place to be referred to as catacombs was the system of underground tombs between the 2nd and 3rd milestones of the Appian Way
Appian Way
The Appian Way was one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. It connected Rome to Brindisi, Apulia, in southeast Italy...

 in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, where the bodies of the apostles Peter and Paul, among others, were said to have been buried.
Encyclopedia
Catacombs, human-made subterranean passageways for religious practice. Any chamber used as a burial place can be described as a catacomb, although the word is most commonly associated with the Roman empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. Many are under cities and have been popularized by stories of their use as war refuges, smugglers' hideouts, or meeting places for cults.

Etymology

The first place to be referred to as catacombs was the system of underground tombs between the 2nd and 3rd milestones of the Appian Way
Appian Way
The Appian Way was one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. It connected Rome to Brindisi, Apulia, in southeast Italy...

 in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, where the bodies of the apostles Peter and Paul, among others, were said to have been buried. The name of that place in late Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 was catacumbae, a word of obscure origin, possibly deriving from a proper name, or else a corruption of the Latin phrase cata tumbas, "among the tombs". The word referred originally only to the Roman catacombs
Catacombs of Rome
The Catacombs of Rome are ancient catacombs, underground burial places under or near Rome, Italy, of which there are at least forty, some discovered only in recent decades. Though most famous for Christian burials, either in separate catacombs or mixed together, they began in the 2nd century, much...

, but was extended by 1836 to refer to any subterranean receptacle of the dead, as in the 18th-century Paris catacombs
Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs of Paris or Catacombes de Paris are an underground ossuary in Paris, France. Located south of the former city gate , the ossuary holds the remains of about 6 million people and fills a renovated section of caverns and tunnels that are the remains of Paris' stone mines...

.

Around the world

Catacombs in the world include:
  • Austria
    Austria
    Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

     – Catacombs of St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna
    Vienna
    Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

  • Australia
    Australia
    Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

     – Catacombs of Trinity College
    Trinity College (University of Melbourne)
    Trinity College is the oldest college of the University of Melbourne. Founded in 1872 on a site granted to the Church of England, Trinity is unique among Australian university colleges in its diverse education programs...

    , Melbourne University
  • Czech Republic
    Czech Republic
    The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

     – Catacombs of Znojmo
    Znojmo Catacombs
    The Znojmo Catacombs are a vast labyrinth of underground passageways, cellars and subcellars situated under the historic city of Znojmo, in the Czech Republic...

  • Egypt
    Egypt
    Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

     – Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa (or Kom al Sukkfa, Shuqafa, etc.) in Alexandria
    Alexandria
    Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

  • England
    England
    England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

      – Catacombs of London
    Catacombs of London
    The catacombs of London are a series of subterranean spaces in London, United Kingdom. The city's high water table limits subterreanean construction....

     and others
  • France
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

     – Catacombs of Paris
    Catacombs of Paris
    The Catacombs of Paris or Catacombes de Paris are an underground ossuary in Paris, France. Located south of the former city gate , the ossuary holds the remains of about 6 million people and fills a renovated section of caverns and tunnels that are the remains of Paris' stone mines...

  • Ukraine
    Ukraine
    Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

     – Odessa Catacombs
    Odessa Catacombs
    The Odessa Catacombs are an estimated 2,500 kilometres of labyrinths stretching out under the city and surrounding region of Odessa, Ukraine. The majority of the catacombs are the result of stone mining....

  • Italy
    Italy
    Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

     – Catacombs of Rome
    Catacombs of Rome
    The Catacombs of Rome are ancient catacombs, underground burial places under or near Rome, Italy, of which there are at least forty, some discovered only in recent decades. Though most famous for Christian burials, either in separate catacombs or mixed together, they began in the 2nd century, much...

    ; Catacombs of Naples; Capuchin catacombs of Palermo
    Capuchin catacombs of Palermo
    The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo are burial catacombs in Palermo, Sicily, southern Italy...

     and others
  • Malta
    Malta
    Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

     – Rabat Catacombs
  • Peru
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

     – Catacombs of the Convento de San Francisco
    Convento de San Francisco
    Convento de San Francisco is the Spanish name for Saint Francis Monastery located in Lima, Peru at Ancash, south of Parque la Muralla and one block northeast from the Plaza Mayor. The church and convent are part of the Historic Centre of Lima, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in...

    , Lima
    Lima
    Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

  • Spain
    Spain
    Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

     – Catacombs of Sacromonte
    Sacromonte
    Sacromonte is a neighbourhood of Granada, in Spain. It derives its name from the nearby Sacromonte Abbey, which was founded in 1600 on the hill of Valparaiso outside the old city, and is built over catacombs ....

     in Granada
    Granada
    Granada is a city and the capital of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of three rivers, the Beiro, the Darro and the Genil. It sits at an elevation of 738 metres above sea...

  • Slovenia
    Slovenia
    Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

     – Catacombs of Huda Jama
    Huda Jama
    Huda Jama is a settlement to the east of Laško in east-central Slovenia. The area was traditionally part of the Lower Styria region. It is now included with the rest of the Municipality of Laško in the Savinja statistical region....

     near Laško
    Laško
    Laško is a spa town and municipality in eastern Slovenia. Traditionally the area was part of the Lower Styria region. The municipality is now included in the Savinja statistical region. The town is located at the foothills of the Hum hill on the Savinja River. It is first mentioned in written...

     and others

There are also catacomb-like burial chambers in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

; in Sousse
Sousse
Sousse is a city in Tunisia. Located 140 km south of the capital Tunis, the city has 173,047 inhabitants . Sousse is in the central-east of the country, on the Gulf of Hammamet, which is a part of the Mediterranean Sea. The name may be of Berber origin: similar names are found in Libya and in...

, North Africa; in Naples, Italy; in Syracuse
Syracuse, Italy
Syracuse is a historic city in Sicily, the capital of the province of Syracuse. The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes. This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

; Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

; Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, Ukraine. Capuchin
Order of Friars Minor Capuchin
The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin is an Order of friars in the Catholic Church, among the chief offshoots of the Franciscans. The worldwide head of the Order, called the Minister General, is currently Father Mauro Jöhri.-Origins :...

 catacombs of Palermo, Sicily were used as late as 1920s. Catacombs were available in some of the grander English cemeteries founded in the 19th Century, such as Sheffield General Cemetery
Sheffield General Cemetery
The General Cemetery is a cemetery in the City of Sheffield, England that opened in 1836, and closed for burial in 1978. It was the principal cemetery in Victorian Sheffield with over 87,000 burials. Today it is a conservation area , and it is listed on the English Heritage National Register of...

 (above ground) and West Norwood Cemetery
West Norwood Cemetery
West Norwood Cemetery is a cemetery in West Norwood in London, England. It was also known as the South Metropolitan Cemetery.One of the first private landscaped cemeteries in London, it is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries of London, and is a site of major historical, architectural and...

 (below ground). There are catacombs in Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 near Aladzha Monastery
Aladzha Monastery
Aladzha Monastery is a medieval Orthodox Christian cave monastery complex in northeastern Bulgaria, 17 km north of central Varna and 3 km west of Golden Sands beach resort, in a protected forest area adjacent to the Golden Sands Nature Park.The monastery caves were hewn into a 25-m high...

and in Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 as medieval underground galleries in Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

.

In Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, catacomb (used in the local languages' plural katakomby) also refers to the network of abandoned caves and tunnel
Tunnel
A tunnel is an underground passageway, completely enclosed except for openings for egress, commonly at each end.A tunnel may be for foot or vehicular road traffic, for rail traffic, or for a canal. Some tunnels are aqueducts to supply water for consumption or for hydroelectric stations or are sewers...

s earlier used to mine stone, especially limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

. Such catacombs are situated in Crimea
Crimea
Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

 and the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 coast of these two countries. The most famous are Odessa Catacombs
Odessa Catacombs
The Odessa Catacombs are an estimated 2,500 kilometres of labyrinths stretching out under the city and surrounding region of Odessa, Ukraine. The majority of the catacombs are the result of stone mining....

 and Ajimushkay, Crimea, Ukraine. In the early days of Christianity, believers conducted secret worship services in these burial caves for safety and reverence for the dead. Later, they served as bases for Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 guerrillas
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 (see also Great Patriotic War). Ajimushkay catacombs hosted about 10,000 fighters and refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

s. Many of them died and were buried there, and memorials and museums were later established (it is now a territory of Kerch
Kerch
Kerch is a city on the Kerch Peninsula of eastern Crimea, an important industrial, transport and tourist centre of Ukraine. Kerch, founded 2600 years ago, is considered as one of the most ancient cities in Ukraine.-Ancient times:...

 city).

Catacomb decorations

Catacombs although most notable for the underground passage ways and cemeteries are also the home of many decorations. There are thousands of decorations in the centuries old catacombs of Rome
Catacombs of Rome
The Catacombs of Rome are ancient catacombs, underground burial places under or near Rome, Italy, of which there are at least forty, some discovered only in recent decades. Though most famous for Christian burials, either in separate catacombs or mixed together, they began in the 2nd century, much...

, catacombs of Paris
Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs of Paris or Catacombes de Paris are an underground ossuary in Paris, France. Located south of the former city gate , the ossuary holds the remains of about 6 million people and fills a renovated section of caverns and tunnels that are the remains of Paris' stone mines...

, and other known and unknown catacombs, some of which include inscriptions, paintings and statues among other things such as ornaments which were placed in the graves over the years. Most of these decorations were used to identify, immortalize, and to show respect to the dead.

Inscriptions

Although thousands of inscriptions were lost as time passed, they still serve as an indication of the social rank or the job title of its inhabitants; most of the inscriptions simply indicate how loving a couple was, or the love of parents and such.

Paintings

Paintings can also be seen throughout the burial chambers on the walls and ceilings. The paintings conveyed the same ideas as the inscriptions found throughout the catacombs.

Bacteria

In recent years unique strains of bacteria have been discovered that thrive in catacombs, inducing mineral efflorescence and decay. These include Kribbella sancticallisti
Kribbella sancticallisti
Kribbella sancticallisti is a species of bacteria in the genus Kribbella. It was discovered as a whitish-grey patina growing in Roman catacombs in 2008...

, Kribbella catacumbae
Kribbella catacumbae
Kribbella catacumbae is a species of bacteria in the genus Kribbella. It was discovered on the walls of Roman catacombs in 2008....

, and three types of non-thermophilic (low-temperature) Rubrobacter
Rubrobacter
Rubrobacter is a genus of Actinobacteria, given its own subclass . It is radiotolerant and may rival Deinococcus radiodurans in this regard....


See also

  • Crypt
    Crypt
    In architecture, a crypt is a stone chamber or vault beneath the floor of a burial vault possibly containing sarcophagi, coffins or relics....

  • Cemetery
    Cemetery
    A cemetery is a place in which dead bodies and cremated remains are buried. The term "cemetery" implies that the land is specifically designated as a burying ground. Cemeteries in the Western world are where the final ceremonies of death are observed...

  • Ossuary
    Ossuary
    An ossuary is a chest, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce. A body is first buried in a temporary grave, then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in an ossuary...

  • Urban exploration
    Urban exploration
    Urban exploration is the examination of the normally unseen or off-limits parts of urban areas or industrial facilities. Urban exploration is also commonly referred to as infiltration, although some people consider infiltration to be more closely associated with the exploration of active or...

  • The Cask of Amontillado
    The Cask of Amontillado
    "The Cask of Amontillado" is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in the November 1846 issue of Godey's Lady's Book....


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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