Jewish catacomb came first, study finds
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
A Jewish catacomb in Rome predates its Christian counterparts by at least 100 years, indicating that burial in the city's sprawling underground cemeteries may not have begun as a Christian practice, according to a study published Wednesday.
Scholars have long believed early Christians were the first to bury their dead in Roman catacombs. But Dutch experts from Utrecht University who dated organic material from a Jewish catacomb in the city say it appears early Christians inherited the practice from Jews.
The research has just been published in Nature:
Death in Rome
Radiocarbon dating of wood from one the Jewish Villa Torlonia catacombs (underground cemeteries) to the northeast of Rome shows that it pre-dates its Christian counterparts by 100 years or more. This suggests that burial in Roman catacombs may not have been a strictly Christian practice, as is commonly believed, and that its origin may lie in Jewish traditions.
Radiocarbon dating: Jewish inspiration of Christian catacombs
A Jewish cemetery in ancient Rome harbours a secret that bears on the history of early Christianity.
Leonard V. Rutgers, Klaas van der Borg, Arie F. M. de Jong and Imogen Poole
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