The Jewish catacombs are set to become the new archaeological wonder of Rome following a 1.4 million grant from Italys Ministero dei beni culturali (ministry of cultural heritage). First unearthed in 1918, forgotten for decades until they were rediscovered in 1988, the catacombs are thought to date back to the first century AD. They may have even provided the model for the later Christian catacombs in Rome, according to leading Dutch archaeologist Leonard Rutgers. Located on the Via Nomentana in the north-east of the city, the one kilometre long tunnels certainly represent among the most ancient catacomb structures in Rome, along with the catacombs at Vigna Randanini and what little remains in Monteverde, says archaeologist Maria Rosaria Barbera. Further digs and construction work are due to start in September, and are set to coincide with the next European Day of Jewish Culture on 4 September.
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