This period saw the assumption of great importance by the fossores, a corps of gravediggers first explicitly mentioned in 303, in the acts of requisition of the church of Cirta but which must have existed from the beginnings of the community cemeteries, as appears from, e.g., ps.-Hippolytus Tr. Apost. 40. They dug the underground chambers, laid out the areae above ground, and created and decorated the various types of tombs. They were specialized in their work and so were divided into categories; from the 4th c. they appear in the ecclesiastical hierarchy alongside ostiarii, custodians of churches and cemeteries. In the latter half of the 4th c., in necropolises with venerated tombs they arrogated to themselves the privilege of distributing the most sought-after places in exchange for payment: we have epigraphical evidence of this at Rome and elsewhere, with contracts and even purchase prices. Burkina Faso Map This abuse lasted into the first decades of the 5th c., but the custom of underground burial finally ceasing at that time, probably through the intervention of church authorities the fossores ceded their powers to other administrators whom inscriptions and literary sources call mansionarii, praepositi or presbyteri. At Rome, where there is a greater wealth of evidence, we see a return to that organization of the funeral service which, in its broad outlines, seems to go back to the pontificate of Pope Fabian 236 250. The community was organized into districts called tituli modern parishes, grouped in turn into seven ecclesiastical regions. To each region corresponded a particular extramural funerary region with some cemeteries. By the 5th c. many of these had become real sanctuaries. Profound changes had been made to ease access to the pilgrims who, since the pontificate of Damasus 366 384, an enthusiastic promoter of the martyrs, had begun to flock there.
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