(from the Greek kata kumbas
, meaning "near the low place or ravine") was originally the name of a particular district in Rome, but later referred to subterranean Christian burial places throughout the Roman Empire
have been discovered in Anatolia, Malta, and North Africa, and in the cities of Naples, Paris, Syracuse, Trier in Germany, and Alexandria, Egypt. However, the principal catacombs are those in Rome (about 40 in number). Found mainly along the Via Appia, the Via Ostiensis, the Via Labicana, the Via Tiburtina, and the Via Nomentana, they bear 4th-century names identifying the martyrs who were buried in them.