Skip to main content Accessibility help

A mass grave from the catacomb of Saints Peter and Marcellinus in Rome, second-third century AD

  • Philippe Blanchard (a1), Dominique Castex (a2), Michaël Coquerelle (a2), Raffaella Giuliani (a3) and Monica Ricciardi (a3)...


Investigations in a catacomb revealed an early mass grave, in which the bodies were bound tightly with plaster and textile in a type of mummification. Over 100 individuals, mostly young adults, including women, were stacked in rows apparently following a communal fatal incident, perhaps an epidemic. The presence of traces of gold, silver and probably amber with many of the bodies, and their burial in an imperial property suggests a group of some status being interred in the early years of the catacomb, at the end of the second century AD or beginning of the third.



Hide All
Blanchard, Ph., Castex, D., Souquet-Leroy, I. & Poulle, P.. 2002a. Les sépultures multiples d'Issoudun (Indre, XVIIe siècle): stratégie d'intervention et objectifs de recherche. Bulletins et Mémoires de la Société d'Anthropologie de Paris 14 n.s. (1-2): 199200.
Blanchard, Ph., 2002b. Des sépultures de catastrophe. L'archéologue oct-nov 2002, n° 62: 49.
Bruzek, J., Schmitt, A. & Murail, P.. 2005. Identification biologique individuelle en paléoanthropologie. Détermination du sexe et estimation de l'âge au décès à partir du squelette, in Dutour, O., Hublin, J.-J. & Vandermeersch, B. (ed.) Origine et Evolution Humaine: 217–46. Paris: Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques.
Castex, D. & Carton, I. (ed.) 2007 in press. Epidémies et crises de mortalité. Archéologie, Anthropologie biologique et Histoire (Actes des séminaires de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme d'Aquitaine 2004-2005). Bordeaux: Ausonius.
Duday, H. 2005. Lezioni di Archeotanatologia. Archeologia funeraria e antropologia di campo. Rome: Soprintendenza archeologica di Roma/Ecole Française de Rome.
Fiocchi Nicolai, V., Bisconti, F. & Mazzoneli, D. (French transl. Guyon, J.). 1999. Les Catacombes chrétiennes de Rome: origine, développement, décor, inscriptions. Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner.
Gourevitch, D. 2005. The Galenic Plague: a breakdown of the Imperial Pathocoenosis (Pathocoenosis and Longue Durée). Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 27: 5769.
Green, C. J. 1977. The significance of plaster burials for the recognition of Christian cemeteries, in Reece, R. (ed.) Burial in the Roman World (Council for British Archaeology Research Reports 22): 4653. London: Council for British Archaeology.
Guyon, J. 1987. Le Cimetière “aux deux lauriers”. Recherches sur les catacombes romaines. Rome: Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Christiana/Ecole Française de Rome.
Guyon, J. 2004. Entries “Comitatum (in)”, “Duas lauros (inter) coemeterium”, “Duas lauros (ad, inter) territorium ”, in La Regina, A. (dir.) Lexikon topographicum Urbis Romae, Suburbium, II: 133-34, 209-18. Rome.
Knussmann, R. et al. (ed.) 1988. Anthropologie. Handbuch der vergleichenden Biologie des Menschen. Zugleich 4. Band I. Wesen und Methoden der Anthropologie. Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer.
Sjøvold, T. 1990. Estimation of stature from long bones utilizing the line of organic correlation. Human Evolution 5, 5: 431–47.
Wilpert, G. 1910. La cripta dei papi e la cappella di Santa Cecilia nel cimiterio di Callisto. Rome: Desclée.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed