First discovered in 1859, the Jewish catacombs located under Rome’s Appian Way and dating to the 3rd or 4th century CE are still being studied by archaeologists. Rossella Tercatin writes:
[T]he Catacombe di Vigna Randanini, [as they are called], are unique compared to the dozens of Christian catacombs in the city: only a few meters into the site, in a cramped, painted chamber, a large brick-red menorah is silhouetted against the upper part of the wall in stark contrast to the stone and earth surroundings.
To reach the menorah’s chamber, visitors must descend into the ground. With flashlights as the only source of illumination, the small staircase that separates the bright summer day from the dark, cold gallery is like a time machine to ancient Rome. . . .
“The chamber with the painted menorah was the private chapel of a prominent family. There used to be a sarcophagus for the head of the family,” the caretaker Alberto Marcocci, [who has dedicated much of his life to studying the catacombs, said].