Location of Tomb Z

Necropolis (Scavi) Tomb Z
Tomb of the Egyptians

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Sarcophagus detail
Detail of a sarcophagus showing Dionysus and Ariadne, in the Tomb of the Egyptians


(Drawing by B. M. Apollonj-Ghetti.)
From 'The Shrine of St. Peter' by Toynbee and Perkins, Pantheon. 1957

The Tomb of the Egyptians (Tomb Z)

This is called the Egyptian tomb becaue of the picture of Horus, an Egyptian god of the dead, which is painted in the center of the north wall of the tomb.

From: 'Guide to the Vatican Necropolis' by Michele Basso, Fabbrica di S. Pietro

The roof of the mausoleum is missing because it protruded above the floor of the Constantine Basilica; the facade was also demolished by Constantine to erect one of the three retaining walls needed to support the fourth century Basilica. The facade was directly in line with the foundation wall of the Basilica, beneath the columns which separated the central nave from the first nave to the south.

Six sarcohagi and four arcosolia (a niche for interment surmounted by an arch) were found in the tomb of reddish plaster. There is also evidence of probable cremations.

The left sarcophagus on the north wall has a mythological scene in which we see Dionysius in a chariot driven by a centaur; he is accompanied by fauns, baccchants and corybants; Arianna is asleep in the depths of a forest. The fron of the cover, depicting an aerial dance of maenads, seems to crown the bacchanal scene of the sarcophagus.



P. Zander. The Vatican Necropolis, in "Roma Sacra", 25, Roma 2003
Margherita Guarducci, The Tomb of St Peter, Hawthorn Books, 1960
John Evangelist Walsh, The Bones of St Peter, New York, 1982
J. Toynbee - J.W. Perkins. The Shrine of St Peter and the Vatican Excavations, London 1956
Michele Basso. Guide to the Vatican Necropolis, Fabbrica di S. Pietro in Vaticano, 1986



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