Deep beneath Rome’s streets can be found hundreds of miles of underground tunnels and vaults. Constructed by the Romans, this vast subterranean labyrinth contains a catacomb full of thousands of human skeletons, all featuring an unusual burial ritual. While the skeletons show no sign of physical
trauma, and the cause of death remains unknown, there is historical evidence of waves of mass death occurring between the late 1st century AD and the early 3rd century AD.
An expert in reconstructing ancient DNA raises the possibility that these may have been victims of
the Antonine Plague, an epidemic that tore its way through the Roman Empire. THE CATACOMB MYSTERY (Sunday 12th, 6.05pm) follows specialists’ attempts to unlock the skeletons’ secrets, using DNA mapping and cutting-edge archaeology.