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Cemeteries

 

The principal Italian cemeteries contained hundreds of burials laid out in parallel lines. They were generally located on the plains, at some distance from the towns, near roads or ancient Roman settlements.
In Alpine foothills and other hilly areas, cemeteries consisted of small groups of a few burials, while in towns isolated tombs occurred near houses. As Christianity spread, it became more common to bury the dead in or near churches, which were often founded by the Longobards as funerary chapels.
Tomb types were varied: in simple grave cuts with or without a wooden coffin, in rectangular tombs made of stone slabs or with walls in stone, pebbles or bricks, perhaps with pitched-roof-like tile covers.
As in Pannonia, in Italy too, the grave of one who died far from home was often marked by a pole (pertica) surmounted by a dove, and this custom is immortalized in several place-names, such as Santo Stefano in Pertica (Cividale) and Santa Maria alle Pertiche (Pavia).
Graves have also been found with "houses of the dead" held up by four wooden poles set in the ground, and others contained horses placed next to their riders, often together with rich grave-goods, an expression of the deceased’s high aristocratic rank.
Byzantine and Roman cultural influences tended to increase after arrival in Italy, giving rise to the characteristic products of Italian Longobard culture, such as the famous gold crosses, rich in symbolic meaning, which were placed in burials from early on.