IPOGEO ROMANO – CATANIA

 
Ipogeo romano

Located in the former Selva of the convent of "Santa Maria di Gesù", the monument, improperly known as "square hypogeum" (to distinguish it from another circular plan nearby), is actually a monumental tomb from the Roman imperial age (I -II century AD), among the few survivors of the vast necropolis of Catina that occupied the area north of the present historical center of Catania.
The tomb, which in the late Middle Ages was used as a limestone by the monks of the convent, was rediscovered by scholars of the seventeenth century. Depicted in a watercolor by J. Houel (XVIII century) and some engravings by S. Ittar (XIX century), it was later excavated and brought to light by F. Ferrara in the early 1800s. In the 70s of the last century the tomb was restored and made visitable in a green area.
What remains of the building consists of a large rectangular-shaped structure (about 13 x 9 m), which maintains a marked height of about three meters. The eastern half of the building consists of a massive body of the building, while the opposite one is occupied by a partially hypogean square chamber, originally turned, accessible through a staircase on the western short side. At the center of the back wall a rectangular niche opens; four other niches, of smaller dimensions, are arranged
symmetrically on the other walls: one for each in the center of the north and south sides and two on the entrance wall, on the sides of the staircase. The masonry of the building, completely analogous to that of the major monuments of Càtina, is composed of a powerful filling in opus coementicium (lime, volcanic sand and scales of lava stone) covered in opus mixtum, formed by parts in opus vittatum (use of bricks in the cantonal and on three rows that run along the whole base of the monument) and parts in opus incertum (blocks of lava stone irregularly squared and smoothed in front view).
Experts agree in hypothesizing that the building originally had a second floor, probably inaccessible, according to an architectural model of Hellenistic origin, widespread in the Roman world from the second half of the 1st century A.D. On the original appearance of the second floor, which left no traces other than the mighty walls that supported it, only conjectures can be made.

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