2011-04-30

Cities of the dead: 7 sinister ossuaries


While overgrown cemeteries are mysterious places, with abandoned chapels and tumbling gravestones providing a perfect habitat for plants and animals, ossuaries present a far more forboding environment. All over the world, chapels and churches hide a dark subterranean secret beneath their stone floors, from family vaults to bone-lined cities of the dead. But despite their chilling existence, ossuaries provided an economical solution to the problem of overcrowding. In many cases bodies were buried briefly before relocating to an ossuary, where they could be stacked with other remains in a sort of grizzly storage system that allowed countless human skeletons to be interred in a single tomb. Ossuaries were used by the Zoroastrians in Persia 3,000 years ago, and have been adopted by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Jewish faiths, in often decorative displays that bring a whole new meaning to the term “bone structure”.

See more of the Chapel of Bones, Evora, Portugal and other osssuaries: 
Cities of the dead: 7 sinister ossuaries

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