Monday, October 09, 2006

Vatican Necropolis Gives Up Secrets After Escaping Construction
``It's not easy to dig with all the wonderful things that are underground,'' said Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, head of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, in an interview.

The 500 square meters (5,380 square feet) of mostly pagan crypts will be opened to the public on Oct. 13 as part of the Vatican Museums' 500th anniversary. The necropolis is part of three other sections that in their entirety consist of about 1,000 square meters of graves.

It will be years before the conservation is completed, said Giandomenico Spinola, the archaeologist heading up the excavation. Until now, the work has cost about 400,000 euros ($508,000), financed by the Vatican Museums and Vatican City.