The Roman people was the culture of the Ancient Age that gave more importance to civil constructions and recreational works; however, it also developed an important architecture around the world beyond the grave that may have been relegated in favor of larger constructions. In this sense, we must highlight several aspects and the first of them is that the different social strata into which Roman society was divided marked the types of burials. Thus, it is not It is the same to speak of the burial of a patrician than that of a slave, basically because hardly any remains of burials belonging to the humblest social classes have come down to us, since these used to be carried out in common graves.
For some years the burial of the deceased was allowed, rather the shelter of their ashes, inside the patios of private houses together with the images of the deceased, but soon this practice was prohibited, banishing any form of burial outside the walls in order to avoid diseases. In this way, the ditches of the roads that reached the walls of the cities were flooded with burials
If the family did not have sufficient resources to burn the corpse, it was thrown into a mass grave, but if the cremation was carried out, the remainsThey were deposited in a kind of vessel that used to be placed under a small tombstone or, in the case of the we althiest, in a kind of well that gave way to the well-known columbariums, small niche-shaped excavations in the earth. Some columbariums intended for great families were built as large buildings, see for example the Columbarium of the imperial family Julia Claudia in Codini or that of Mérida in Spain.
With the arrival and gradual spread of Christianity and also of Judaism, the rite of cremation fell into disuse until the second century AD. burial was widespread throughout the empire, even among those who did not profess religion. In this way the need arose to accommodate a large number of lifeless bodies and it was in this way that the well-known catacombs appeared.
Actually, the model of the catacombs follows the same scheme as that of the columbaria, with larger niches that would allow the corpse to be buried, but all arranged side by side others. According to experts, the first catacombs must date from around the 2nd century AD. and it was later when, as more space was needed, different levels were excavated and numerous tunnels opened that gave rise to the intricate system of galleries that we know today.