The Vatican's Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology is overseeing the dig. Its chief inspector of catacombs, Raffaella Giuliani, said: "This is the earliest example of such a mass burial. Usually two or three bodies at the most were put into holes dug out of the rock in the catacombs, but in these case we have several rooms filled with skeletons.
"They are placed one on top of the other and not in a disorderly fashion. They have been carefully buried, with dignity, but the puzzle is why so many at a time?"
The skeletons were dressed in fine robes, many containing gold thread, and wrapped in sheets covered with lime, as was common in early Christian burials.
May 24, 2006
1,000 toga-wearing skeletons found in catacombs
Archaeologists puzzled by find.