Jewish Catacombs Under Villa Torlonia at Vigna Randanini on Via Appia Antica

"Jewish Catacombs Under Villa Torlonia at Vigna Randanini on Via Appia Antica" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Sunday 17th July 2011

Jewish Catacombs Under Villa Torlonia at Vigna Randanini on Via Appia Antica

There are 6 known Jewish catacombs (Catacombe Ebraiche) in Rome, two of which are open to the public: Vigna Randanini and Villa Torlonia. Two-thirds of the known Jewish inscriptions from Ancient Rome come from two catacombs. The catacomb at the Vigna Randanini on the Via Appia, excavated in 1859-62 and still surviving, has produced about 200 epitaphs (JIWE ii 204-401, 609-611). The catacomb at Monteverde on the Via Portuensis, mainly excavated 1904-06 and now completely lost due to landslides. The following Jewish catacombs have been identified:

  1. on the Via Nomentana near the Villa Torlonia,
  2. on the Via Labicana outside the Porta Maggiore,
  3. on the Via Appia Pignatelli (beyond the second milestone, closer to the city than the Christian catacombs),
  4. on the Via Appia (Via Cimarra),
  5. on the Via Ostiensis, at Monteverde.

The catacombs were discovered by accident in 1918 during work below the stables of Mussolini’s residence; further excavations by the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology in 1973-1974 clarified their origins as separate hypogaea, incorporating also abandoned water conduits and other subterranean caverns. Epitaphs to non-Jews were recovered in the same area, but the vast majority of funerary material found in the catacomb excavations indicated that Jews had used the cemetery between the third and fifth centuries A.D.; the area, in fact, was known through the Middle Ages as the "Campo dei Giudey" (sic) or "field of the Jews" (not to be confused with that near the Porta Portese in Trastevere).
Jewish Catacombs Under Villa Torlonia at Vigna Randanini on Via Appia Antica.
The catacombs extend for more than 13,000 square metres (140,000 sq ft), and date back to the period between the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and possibly remained in use until the 5th century. There are almost a century of epitaphs, but these do not show any examples of a particular relief, beyond some rare frescoes showing the classic Jewish religious symbols.

Access to the catacombs is through a huge rectangular hall, originally open-air and later divided into two and covered by a vault, probably in order to be used as a synagogue. The tunnels have “shaped” tombs, that is, excavated in the floor, as well as brick-sealed loculi, arcosolia and the characteristic Kôchim tombs, of Phoenician origin, consisting of oven-type loculi on several levels. Some painted cubicles depict not only flower motifs and animals but also subjects typical of the Jewish faith such as the Ark of the Covenant and the seven-branch candelabrum. There are curiouslyno Hebrew inscriptions. The catacombs reached their maximum development in the 3rd and 4th century AD.

Practical Information:

Jewish Catacombs (Catacombe Ebraiche) Under Villa Torlonia at Vigna Randanini
Via Appia Antica, 119 (Via Nomentana 70)
00179, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Quartiere Appio Latino/ Quartiere Appio Pignatelli/ Quartiere Appio Pignatelli/ Quartiere Tuscolano [South Rome (Roma sud)]
Jewish Catacombs (Catacombe Ebraiche) Under Villa Torlonia at Vigna Randanini is Shown By "Map K Zone" As "92"
Hour: The catacombs are open only for organized guided tours.
Entrance: €5.00
Booking:
Groups: Min. 12 and max 30 people per group: tel. +39 060608, daily from 9.00 am to 9.00 pm. Additional cost for reservation € 25,00. Booking required on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays.
Schools: Tel. +39 06 42888888 Monday-Friday from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm, Saturday from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm. With the booking, it is possible to skip the line by going directly to the ticket office.
Roma Pass: The Museum is included in the Roma Pass. Email: i...@romapass.it , Website: http://www.romapass.it/
Buy Ticket Online: http://www.pierreci.it/ and http://www.ticketclic.it/

Links:
http://www.catacombsociety.org/visiting_Vigna-Torlonia.html
http://www.livius.org/di-dn/diaspora/rome.html
http://www.philomena.us/catacombs.asp
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8644832
http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2000/2000-10-11.html

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