Project Description

Death and Burial in Ancient Rome: the Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas (and friends!)

Columbarium, like Pomponius Hylas’, represent an ancient Roman business strategy: it was a way of lowering the costs of burial.  In other words, people from the same family, multiple families, or burial clubs shared expenses and purchased as a group what they could not afford by themselves.  Columbarium (unlike the dovecots they were named after) are usually underground.  This was another financial strategy: underground real-estate was less useful and therefore less expensive — just like today!  Columbarium, in general, and Pomponius Hylas’ especially, reflect Rome’s working class’ desire for a decent burial.  They are also forerunners of the catacombs that many people have heard of but, whose history, few people understand.

The Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas is a short visit and pairs up well with the Sepulcher of the Scipios, just as it complements other underground attractions (like San Clemente, Vicus Caprarius, and / or the Nymphaeum of Annibaldi).  Visitors are also welcomed to create their own pairings…  Since it is not central, visitors may want to taxi there.  If the Columbarium is paired up with the Via Appia, the nearby hill-towns of Frascati, or other attractions outside of the historic center, it may make sense to rely on a private driver.  Please ask for more information!

Visiting the site requires a special permission and a timed (private) entrance.  Visits are limited to an hour.  Besides a 4 euro / per person ticket, there is a one-time euro 25 reservation surcharge. For more information, please see “the costs” section of this webpage.

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