If you haven’t had your recent thoughts about the Roman Empire this month, then this should spark it, as the general public can now visit the Vatican Necropolis.
The necropolis is an ancient Roman burial ground located a few feet beneath St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Thanks to the Vatican, members of the general public can now visit ancient history far easier, according to EuroNews.
The site is more than 10,000 square feet and contains marble sarcophagi and tombs dating back to the first and fourth centuries A.D. There are also several Roman frescoes and mosaics.
Vatican Museums director Barbara Jatta shared with the media outlet that in the past, only approved groups of academics, students, and other specialists were granted tours to the necropolis.
But now, with the new exhibition entitled “Life and Death in the Rome of the Caesars,” access has been expanded.
“The individual visitor can come without the help of a guide,” Jatta said. “They can grasp one of the world’s most unique archaeological sites.”
The Vatican has installed a gate overlooking Risorgimento Square that will sell tickets to anyone who wants to visit the burial grounds.
Excavation on the necropolis first began in the 1950s, uncovering the burial site for artisans and other lower-middle-class Roman citizens and some enslaved people.
“Some of them, we understood from the epigraphs, must have been imperial property because their master [Emperor Nero] is often mentioned,” Vatican Museums archaeologist Leonardo Di Blasi told EuroNews.
The Vatican Necropolis is located outside of Central Rome in accordance with ancient Roman laws.