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Catacombs are ancient, human-made subterranean passageways for burial or protection.[1] Any chamber used as a burial place can be described as a catacomb, although the word is most commonly associated with the Roman empire.[2] Many are under cities and have been popularised by stories of their use as war refuges, smugglers' hideouts, or meeting places for cults.



The first place to be referred to as catacombs were the underground tombs between the 2nd and 3rd milestones of the Appian Way in Rome, where the bodies of the apostles Peter and Paul, among others, were said to have been buried. The name of that place in late Latin was catacumbae, a word of obscure origin, possibly deriving from a proper name, or else a corruption of the Latin phrase cata tumbas, "among the tombs". The word referred originally only to the Roman catacombs, but was extended by 1836 to refer to any subterranean receptacle of the dead, as in the 18th-century Paris catacombs.[3]

Around the world

Large and notable catacombs include:[clarification needed]

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