The New International Encyclopædia/Columbarium

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Edition of 1905.  See also Columbarium on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

COLUMBARIUM (Lat., dove-cote, from columba, dove). From a fancied resemblance to a dove-cote, the name given to the niches in Roman burial-places arranged in rows around the walls of the sepulchral chambers to receive the little urns or sarcophagi of marble or terra-cotta containing the ashes of the deceased; finally, to the sepulchral chamber itself. Tombs of this description were chiefly used by the poorer classes who could not afford separate tombs, and were erected by great families for their slaves and dependents, or by funeral associations or corporations under the Empire. Several perfect examples have been found near Rome; among them, those of the Vigna Codini, at the Licinian Gardens. Others exist at Naples and elsewhere in Italy. The ustrina, or places for incinerating the bodies, were attached to the columbaria. In recent times the term columbarium is applied to a room or hall connected with a crematory, and provided with niches for the cinerary urns.