Catacombs, as a term, means from the Greek for erosion depression. These are the ancient underground cemeteries, which were mainly used for shelter in Rome. Many of the Christian and Jewish communities during the persecutions of the first and subsequent centuries was hidden here.
Christian catacombs have their origin, according to most experts, that of the second century. And until the mid-fifth century, their total volume was significantly expanded. The most important buildings of this kind, which were intended for burial in the Italian tradition, located on the outskirts of cities and towns. In funeral rites, which arose between the second and fourth centuries in Rome, there is a lot of interesting things. Originally, there were only burial, where Christians met in terms of funeral rites.
In times of persecution this chain of buildings only used in exceptional cases as a shelter. At that time there were in Rome above-ground cemeteries, which were probably widespread. They will be used in the future by Christians for several reasons. This attitude of Christians to the theme and philosophy of death created space problems, which largely influenced the development of culture in the catacombs. Using the surface of the cemeteries, the available space was soon exhausted, because the graves were used only once. The catacombs have solved this problem economically, practical and secure. These places were allowed, especially in times of persecution, used to meet together in solitude and quiet, and free to use Christian symbols.
In accordance with the norms of Roman law that forbade burial of the dead within the city walls, all catacombs of the great consular roads, generally in the vicinity of the former suburban areas were often protected. Description of the catacombs is very flexible. The catacombs are formed by underground passages, which, in turn, often form a network of mazes. Some of the tunnels are in compliance with the industry structure of the urban system (the passages with lateral branches) or system grid (passages with lateral branches for arms and on to the center lugs, parallel to the aisles). The walls dug in the transition system rows of rectangular niches, often arranged burial.
They were subsequently dug. They were of different sizes, usually within the body. The funeral of the first Christians were very simple and poor. Following the example of Christ, the bodies were wrapped in a shroud, without a coffin. Then these sites in the catacombs were closed with marble slabs. Here often wrote the name of the deceased, and the Christian symbol of the desire to achieve peace in the sky. Because of their arrangement in rows one above the other, the tomb gave the impression of huge residences. So, Christians wanted to emphasize their belief in the resurrection of the body. In addition to this, other forms are also found burial. This Arcosolium tomb of the soil, the Sarcophagus – an ark of stone or marble, the Tomb is more spacious compartment.
The idea of the catacombs. Over time, these burial grounds have expanded. It happened, as often mentioned by researchers, on the initiative of the Church. After the edict of Milan, decision of the Emperor Constantine in February 313, Christians were no longer persecuted. They were free to practice their faith, to build temples and churches. Were built historically significant cultural sites, built inside and outside the city walls.