This archaeological area is an outstanding example of an ancient Roman burial ground.
The word “necropolis”, from the Greek necròs (dead) and pòlis (city), denotes a “city of the dead”. Since Roman law forbade the cremation and burial of the dead within the city for safety and hygiene reasons, cemeteries were located along the roads outside the urban area. The passing of travellers nurtured the memory of the dead, but it was above all the activity of the living that was clearly present in the ancient cemeteries: through particular practices and funerary rites the ancient Romans maintained a link with their departed loved ones and established contact with the Hereafter. All these activities are especially well documented in the necropolis that extends along the stretch of the Via Triumphalis near the city.
From the side of this road, which borders the Vatican Hill, the tombs are distributed along the slopes on a number of terraces. The landscape was characterised by a great variety of tombs, collective and individual, arranged along paths and in squares, often used for ceremonies linked to the cult of the dead. It is a unique archaeological site in terms of the excellent state of conservation of the items unearthed, and of great interest for deepening knowledge of pagan funerary practices. In many cases inscribed funerary stelae have been found, clarifying the identity of the deceased and their individual stories, often relating to members of the middle and lower echelons of imperial Roman society.