1,000 skeletons found in Rome catacombs
Experts are thrilled by the find - which dates from about the first century - as it is the first "mass burial" of its kind identified. Mystery surrounds why so many bodies were neatly piled together in the complex network of underground burial chambers, which stretch for miles under the city.
It was the custom then for Rome's upper classes to be burnt not buried, so it is thought the skeletons may be early Christians. Tests are being carried to establish whether they suffered violent death or were victims of an unknown epidemic or natural disaster.
Raffaella Giuliani, chief inspector of the Vatican's Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, who is overseeing the dig, said: "What we have discovered is very exciting. Usually, two or three bodies were put into holes dug out of the rock in the catacombs. But we have several rooms filled with skeletons.
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