It was discovered that there are roughly 3,800 graves in the cemetery under the villa, which covers more that 13,000 square meters (140,000 square feet). It has been excavated over multiple levels and is one of the few Jewish catacombs in Rome among dozens of Christian subterranean tomb sites.The Chief Rabbi of Rome and an Israeli archaeologist were involved.
The cemetery also contains a treasure trove of information that unravels mysteries about what Jewish life looked like more than 1,500 years ago in a city that has had an organized Jewish presence for the last two millennia.
But as the excavations to explore it have progressed, the site also prompted complex questions as to how to preserve the peace of those buried there, as is stringently required by Jewish law.
I have been following this story for years. For past posts on the Jewish catacombs at the Villa Torlonia (the subject of this article) and elsewhere in Rome, start here and follow the links.
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