Mike Aquilina

Vatican Reveals Ancient Cemetery

Tuesday October 10th 2006, 3:18 am

This one’s pagan, contemporaneous with the earliest years of the Church.

Oct. 9 (Bloomberg) — Visitors to the Vatican will be able to view its museums’ latest addition: a 2,000-year-old pagan burial ground filled with mausoleums, scattered bones and headstones, including one that belonged to one of Nero’s slaves.

The cemetery almost never saw the light of day in modern times. The Vatican announced its discovery almost four years ago after a truck was spotted hauling tombstones with Latin inscriptions on the construction site for a parking lot.

“It’s not easy to dig with all the wonderful things that are underground,” said Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, head of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, in an interview.

The 500 square meters (5,380 square feet) of mostly pagan crypts will be opened to the public on Oct. 13 as part of the Vatican Museums’ 500th anniversary. The necropolis is part of three other sections that in their entirety consist of about 1,000 square meters of graves.

A correspondent points us to lots of photos here.