Paleo-Christian Necropolis of The Valley of the Temples

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The Paleo-Christian necropolis of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento is an area between the Temple of Concordia and the Temple of Heracles where there are traces of numerous burials. The first core, probably an extension of the Roman cemetery of Giambertoni, consists of open burials. Later the catacomb was enlarged, also by using ancient water cisterns from the Greek period. New forms of burial such as arcosols, sarcophagi and underground catacombs were added.

The sub divo tombs

Around the temple of Concordia there is a huge sub divo necropolis, an open-air necropolis. It probably originated as an extension of the so-called Roman necropolis of Giambertoni and has more than 130 tombs. They are of the formae type, that is, trapezoidal in shape and dug into the rock. The sub-divo sector of the early Christian necropolis extends from the Temple of Concordia to the Temple of Hercules and northwards to the entrance corridor of the Fragapane Catacomb.

Fragapane Cave

The cave of Fragapane is the largest catacomb in Agrigento, discovered during excavations in the 19th century. The origin of this catacomb dates back to the fifth century B.C., after the reuse of some cisterns from the Greek period. The cemetery is crossed by a tunnel 25 meters long with two entrances at each end. These still have the threshold and the doorjambs and connect the cave of Fragapane to the north with the early Christian necropolis of Sub-Divus and to the south with the Roman cemetery of Giambertoni. On both sides of the gallery there are narrow corridors leading to cubicles, small burial chambers. On the walls there are arcosols carved into the rock at different heights and depths. The floor of the gallery was also used for burials, where there are formae tombs. In the northern part of the cave of Fragapane, traces of the original wall decorations are still visible. Some garlands and floral motifs with red roses and green leaves can be seen.

The Street of the Sepulchres in Agrigento

The term “Street of the Tombs of Agrigento” refers to a path that crosses the necropolis in an east-west direction, where there are some tombs. It is an ancient canal of Greek origin which, after being abandoned, became a road. The tombs found here are both stone sarcophagi and formae tombs, that is, trapezoidal tombs dug into the rock. Between the 11th and 12th centuries, the western sector of this area was occupied by a pottery workshop. The remains of the kilns and tombs, which were converted into clay pits, can still be seen. 

Funerary hypogea in the garden of Villa Aurea

In the southern part of the Via dei Sepolcri, closer to the rocky slope, some funerary hypogea have been excavated. Two of them are located in the garden of Villa Aurea. The first one is the so-called Hypogeum D, built by reusing a square Greek cistern. It has an entrance directly from the Vie dei Sepolcri through six steps carved into the rock. It was probably a family hypogeum. At the entrance there is a vestibule with a bisomous arcosolium, that is, with two tombs. The second hypogeum in the garden of Villa Aurea is called Hypogeum B and dates back to the fifth century AD. It was also created with the help of two ancient Greek cisterns. A ramp of sixteen steps leads down to the burial area, which is connected to the cistern by a corridor. Inside there are sarcophagi carved into the rock, formae tombs and even some arcosols.

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