Historical Jewish tombs are scarcely found around the world. The ancient, yet sacred tombs are special because they hold an important part in Jewish art, history and lore. Rome is primarily known to have several tombs dedicated to mythological and Christian tombs that have been unearthed. The fascinating lore, stories and tales are interesting and are usually shared onboard Kosher river cruises, so if you’re interested in learning more, book your next vacation.
Vigna Randanini – Jewish Catacombs in Rome
In the region of Rome, Via Appia Antica, a group of farmers working in a vineyard discovered ancient underground tombs. Tombs are particularly common, however, the structure and make of the buildings were not of Christian origin, which is what is usually expected. The tomb is known as Vigna Randanini. There are 6 specific catacomb systems, centered around the colosseum, which was built by Jewish slaves.
After its discovery, the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archeology did not grant Vigna Randanini protection. This allowed explorers and scientists to freely carry out their research, however, the tombs were also subjected to exploitation, which means that many of the art pieces, scriptures and artifacts may be auctioned off or tampered with. The discovery of the tomb also invited unwanted guests scribbling anti-sematic graffiti throughout the catacombs, especially during the 1940s.
Jews in Rome
The discovery of the catacombs proves that there was a significant population of Jews living in Rome during the 1st and 2nd Century. The catacombs were riddled with Jewish symbols, particularly the Menorah, the famous 7 branch candelabra which is known as the symbol of the lost temple. They engraved the symbols into the catacombs, making it a prime signifier of Jewish identity. Most of the graves have been created around the 1st through the 4th century of the common era, although strange in modern times, it was a very common practice during the ancient times to use chamber burial practices.
Inside the Catacombs
As you explore the ancient tombs, the halls are narrow with horizontal divots, which are the graves lining the sides. The graves are estimated to be a quarter mile long, with some coffins scattered throughout the area, with varying sizes which speaks volumes of child mortality during that time. The lids covering the coffins had 3 dimensional engravings, particularly of humans, as well as beautiful paintings. The ceilings were also decorated with paintings of peacocks and other interesting figures, including illustrations of the Menorah with latin or greek inscriptions.
Be ready to learn more about fascinating Jewish history on Jewish cruises. Take trips around the world, visit historical sites and explore incredible structures. Discover the world with Kosher River Cruises.
Featured Image: Catacombs of San Sebastiano | (c) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catacombs_of_Rome