Restored splendor at the Catacombs of Domatilla. Recent renovations at Rome’s largest underground cemetery located south-east of the city, have revealed several previously unknown frescoes.
The Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology, which is responsible for the Roman catacombs, has unveiled the latest restorations of the Catacombs of Domitilla south-east of the Eternal City.
According to the German Archaeological Institute, which helped with the restorations, these are the largest catacombs in Rome. They were unveiled on May 29th.
The underground cemetery contains 26,250 tombs and 228 funeral rooms (cubicoli) with 12km of galleries on four levels.
The cleaning of the frescoes was done using laser technology and has restored the splendor of several of these cubicoli. Humidity had caused moss to grow on the graffiti-covered frescoes and turned them black. Some of the graffiti of historical value were preserved.
One of the restored cubicoli, known as “the baker’s tomb”, has regained its original flamboyant colors. The tomb was probably the resting place of a high-ranking official of the Annone, the Roman government agency responsible for supplying Rome with cereals.
“The artwork in the monumental room includes a majestic apostolic college, a Good Shepherd with the seasons, a Jonah cycle,” explained Fabrizio Bisconti, a professor at the University of Rome III and archaeological superintendent of the catacombs for the Commission of Sacred Archeology.
“There is also a frieze illustrating the journey of grain from its arrival at the port of Ostia to Rome, where it was ground to make bread,” he said.
The restorations also led to the re-discovery of a so-called “introduction” room, which is adorned with magnificent biblical scenes.
These include the three children in the furnace, the multiplication of the loaves, the sacrifice of Isaac, Noah and the ark and Moses striking the rock, as well as an astonishing scene where two saints introduce the deceased to Christ…
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