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The catacombs that were found in Rome were due in part that there was a law that prohibited the burial of people within city limits. Before the catacombs were used by the Romans, they were Pagans and practiced cremation but later became Christians. The Christians had the faith of using catacombs to bury the dead. The early catacombs were made for the Jewish people that lived within Rome. Most of the first catacombs found in Rome belong to private land and others were given permission to bury the relatives there. Most of these catacombs started to be used in the Antonines Age.
The catacombs that started to be built for churchs to hold the dead for be later buried further away, started to get more burials from others. Most of the catacombs were made in the beds of soft volcanic tufa. This made it easy for the Romans to build just vast underground labyrinths. The largest catacombs that were found are part of the St Callixtus. They were created around the second century and used for the cemeterial complex which covers 90 acres.
Most of the catacombs to this day are in disrepair and falling apart. There is an estimated 940 miles of catacombs in Rome and every year there is more discovered. References
Christian Classics Ethereal Library. The Roman Catacombs. Retrieved from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edmundson/church.xii.vi.html BibleProbe. Christian Catacombs of Rome. Retrieved from http://www.bibleprobe.com/catacombs.htm