Rome’s Catacombs: Ancient Underground Wonders with Livia Galante

Rome’s Catacombs: Ancient Underground Wonders with Livia Galante


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Join archaeologist Livia Galante on a subterranean seminar beneath the streets of Rome, where we will explore the catacombs, or underground cemeteries, of the Eternal City.

Rome is rightly famous for its catacombs—underground cemeteries of enormous size and filled with archaeological, artistic, and religious remains. These burial grounds contain an estimated 500,000 tombs in an intricate network of narrow and dark galleries. They are a vivid reminder of the transitory nature of human life and of how the ancients sought to come to grips with the reality of death. All of this explains why the catacombs have fascinated those who dare to descend into them. Researchers have long debunked the myth that Christians used the catacombs as hiding places in times of persecution: in the past, too, their precise location was common knowledge.

In this seminar, we will explore a few of the most beautiful Christian cemeteries: those of St. Sebastian, St. Callixtus, and Priscilla. As we go below ground, we will understand early Christian art’s origins through colorful frescoes and sarcophagi depicting biblical scenes, particularly those relating to bodily and spiritual salvation. In addition to Christian cemeteries, archaeologists discovered Jewish catacombs in Rome, whose layout is similar to their early Christian counterparts. However, the artwork and the inscriptions are characteristically Jewish, often with the representation of the menorah in prominent positions.

Led by an expert on Ancient Roman topography, Livia Galante, this interactive seminar will focus on Rome’s underground cemeteries. Designed to inform curiosity and future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of how early Christians lived and worshiped in ancient Rome by looking at burial places and the art that decorated these sacred spaces.

Livia obtained a degree in Archaeology at the Sapienza University of Rome and has a Master's degree in the History and Conservation of Cultural Heritage from the University of Roma Tre. Her main field of interest is ancient Roman topography and early Christian architecture; however, she is an accomplished scholar whose teaching ability extends to the Renaissance and Baroque Rome. As a native Roman, Livia is very enthusiastic in sharing the deep love and knowledge she has for her hometown with clients.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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