Thursday, February 28, 2008

Places of the Dead

Rome--Installment 2

When in Rome, Farmer Boy (FB) and I went to two different catacombs, both of which had very unique and strange smells to them. A catacomb is a place where Romans buried dead people several layers deep. One of the catacombs we went to, Catacombs de San Sebastiano, had tunnels seven miles long, 3 layers down, with sub-levels within the levels. This particular catacomb housed over 30,000 bodies at one point. We only viewed one of the levels of the catacombs. This tour was very large and there were a ton of people.

The other catacomb we went to, Catacombs de Priscilla, was a very small, intimate tour. There were four of us on the tour and the only lighting was a flashlight. There were beautiful fresco paintings in these catacombs, as well as large rooms that we were able to see. In this catacomb, some of the sarcophogi (plural of sarcophogus) were kept sealed. It was really very interesting to see these places and how so many people were fit in such a small place. When we were in this catacomb, I thought what a great place it would be to play hide-and-seek. And then I thought, "that would probably be kind of creepy". I also thought that it would be a great place to hide and jump out and scare people.

On to the next burial places--mausoleums, burial places for the richer. The mausoleums had very decorated sarcophogi and were much fancier than the catacombs. This mausoleum was under St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican city. These were built with bricks, unlike the catacombs which were dug out of dirt that hardened into rock when it was oxygenated. While there, we also got to see the bones of St. Peter, though I have my doubts whether they were his bones or not.

The next place we saw on our tour of the dead, I found gross and disturbing though FB found it fascinating. It was the Capuchin Crypt. It was several rooms that were decorated to look like a cathedral with human bones. There were thousands of peoples bones in there. There were specific rooms--like the femur room and the scapula room. They made chandeliers and sconces out of bones, as well as wall decorations. You can read more about it here and see pictures. I didn't take pictures because they told me not to, and who wants a picture like that to blow up and put on their wall. I keep thinking that I'm going to have dreams about the bones coming to life and reassembling themselves, so they can chase me. Yes, it did creep me out just a bit.

So there you have it, my tour of the dead or at least where the dead used to be. Sweet

1 comment:

Alice said...

I think I am with Farmer Boy. I would totally have been fascinated with the bones made into cathedrals. Man, I would love that. Of course, this is coming from the girl who likes to run in the cemetery, creepy!