Hypogeum or Hypogaeum (plural hypogea) literally means "underground", from Greek "hypo" (under) and "gaia" (earth). [James Stevens Curl (2006) "A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture"] It usually refers to an underground, pre-Christian temple or a tomb. When Christian underground shrines, crypts and tombs that would be "hypogea" if the rites and burials were pagan, are called catacombs, a mistaken discontinuity in sepulture practices is implied that is not borne out by the archeology and history. "Like other ambitious Romans, the bishop-saints of the third and fourth centuries were usually buried in hypogea in the cemeteries outside the walls of their cities; often it was only miracles at their tombs that caused their successors to adopt more up-to-date designs. In Dijon the saint and bishop Benignus (d. c. 274) was buried in a large sarcophagus in a chamber tomb in the Roman cemetery. By the sixth century the tomb had long since fallen into disrepair and was regarded as pagan, even by Bishop Gregory of Langres", Werner Jacobsen has observed. [Werner Jacobsen, "Saints' Tombs in Frankish Church Architecture" "Speculum" 72.4 (October 1997:1107-1143) p. 1127.] .

Hypogea will often contain niches for cremated human remains or loculi for buried remains.

"Hypogeum" can also simply refer to any antique building or part of building built below ground. There was a series of underground tunnels under the Colosseum where slaves and animals were kept ready to fight for the gladitorial games. The animals and slaves would be let up through trapdoors under the sand covered arena at any time during a fight.


An early example of a hypogeum is found at the Minoan Bronze Age site of Knossos on Crete. Hogan notes this underground vault was of a beehive shape and cut into the soft rock. [ [http://letmespeaktothedriver.com/site/10854/knossos.html#fieldnotes C. Michael Hogan, "Knossos fieldnotes", "Modern Antiquarian" (2007)] ]

Other subterranean constructions

Other excavated structures, not used for ritual purposes, include the Greco-Roman cryptoporticus, and in other cultures the dugout, souterrain, yaodong and fogou.

See also

The Hal-Saflieni Hypogeum in Tarxien, Malta, is the oldest example of a prehistoric hypogeum, three levels deep and containing extensive prehistoric art.
*Hypogeum of Hal-Saflieni

External links

* [http://archive.cyark.org/hypogeum-of-the-volumnis-info Hypogeum of the Volumnis digital media archive] (creative commons-licensed photos, laser scans, panoramas), data from a University of Ferrara/CyArk research partnership

Line Notes

General references

*cite book
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title = A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
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edition = Second
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publisher = Oxford University Press
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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hypogeum II — Hypogeum II …   Википедия

  • Hypogeum — Hyp o*ge um, n.; pl. {Hypogea}. [L., fr. Gr. ?, ?, subterranean; ? under + ?, ?, the earth.] (Anc. Arch.) The subterraneous portion of a building, as in amphitheaters, for the service of the games; also, subterranean galleries, as the catacombs.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Hypogēum — (gr.), Ort od. Gewölbe unter der Erde; bes. Keller u. Gruft, Grab, s.u. Katakomben …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • hypogeum — [hī΄pōjē′əm, hip΄ōjē′əm] n. pl. hypogea [hī΄pō jē′ə, hip΄ō jē′ə] [L < Gr hypogaios: see HYPOGEAL] an underground cellar, vault, tomb, etc …   English World dictionary

  • Hypogeum — Hypogäum Ein Hypogäum (lat. hypogeum, gr. hypógeion von „hypo“ = unter und „gaia“ = Erde ), das unter der Erde liegende, ist ein unterirdischer vorchristlicher Tempel. Aber längst nicht alle unterirdischen Kultanlagen werden als Hypogäen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • hypogeum — /huy peuh jee euhm, hip euh /, n., pl. hypogea / jee euh/. 1. Anc. Archit. the underground part of a building, as a vault. 2. an underground burial chamber. [1700 10; < L hypogeum < Gk hypógeion underground chamber (neut. of hypógeios… …   Universalium

  • hypogeum — hy•po•ge•um [[t]ˌhaɪ pəˈdʒi əm[/t]] n. pl. ge•a [[t] ˈdʒi ə[/t]] 1) archit. the underground part of an ancient building, as a vault 2) archit. an underground burial chamber • Etymology: 1700–10; < L hypogēum < Gk hypógeion underground… …   From formal English to slang

  • hypogeum — noun (plural hypogea) Etymology: Latin, from Greek hypogaion, from neuter of hypogaios Date: circa 1706 the subterranean part of an ancient building; also an ancient underground burial chamber …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • hypogeum — noun /hʌɪpəˈʤiːəm/ an underground room or cavern (also used figuratively) …   Wiktionary

  • hypogeum —    The subterranean environment [23] …   Lexicon of Cave and Karst Terminology

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