Child skeletons (National Museum of Health and Medicine) by Prof. Jas. Mundie (James G. Mundie) on Flickr.
If you thought that Sedlec was the only ossuary worth knowing about in the Czech Republic, you’d be extremely wrong. I was wrong, too. Until Atlas Obscura’s post about the Brno Ossuary showed up in my Facebook feed last week.
Turns out there’s a new (old) ossuary on the map: one of the largest in Europe, second only to the Parisian catacombs. In 2001, archaeologists rediscovered this forgotten trove of bones (about 50,000 skeletons’ worth), which were once neatly stacked but at some point along the way were jumbled by a muddy flood.
From the article:

The bones thought to be from the 1600 and 1700s, are believed to have been dug up from an old cemetery to make space for more burials, as in most of the ossuaries and catacombs in Europe. […] It is clear that many of the people died of various disease which can be seen in the coloration of the bones themselves. Though all the bones are tinted yellow — having never been exposed to sunlight — the extra yellow ones likely died of cholera, while the red tinted bones probably died from the plague.

Sadly, the site isn’t open to the public, but will be in the future. There’s still some health risk, as the bones haven’t yet been sanitized and could contain harmful bacteria as a result of the flooding conditions. 
Image Source: Kirk on Wikimedia Commons.

If you thought that Sedlec was the only ossuary worth knowing about in the Czech Republic, you’d be extremely wrong. I was wrong, too. Until Atlas Obscura’s post about the Brno Ossuary showed up in my Facebook feed last week.

Turns out there’s a new (old) ossuary on the map: one of the largest in Europe, second only to the Parisian catacombs. In 2001, archaeologists rediscovered this forgotten trove of bones (about 50,000 skeletons’ worth), which were once neatly stacked but at some point along the way were jumbled by a muddy flood.

From the article:

The bones thought to be from the 1600 and 1700s, are believed to have been dug up from an old cemetery to make space for more burials, as in most of the ossuaries and catacombs in Europe. […] It is clear that many of the people died of various disease which can be seen in the coloration of the bones themselves. Though all the bones are tinted yellow — having never been exposed to sunlight — the extra yellow ones likely died of cholera, while the red tinted bones probably died from the plague.

Sadly, the site isn’t open to the public, but will be in the future. There’s still some health risk, as the bones haven’t yet been sanitized and could contain harmful bacteria as a result of the flooding conditions. 

Image Source: Kirk on Wikimedia Commons.

Another view of the Capela dos Ossos in Évora, Portugal. Source: Wikipedia.

Another view of the Capela dos Ossos in Évora, Portugal. Source: Wikipedia.

Healed cranial fracture by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Adult male cranium aged over 46 years old with a fracture to the left zygomatic bone.

Healed cranial fracture by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Adult male cranium aged over 46 years old with a fracture to the left zygomatic bone.

Granville Perkins, “Horrible death—a man eaten by rattlesnakes, near West Chazy, Clinton Co., N.Y., 1859. Source: New York Public Library on Flickr.
 
Inscription above the entrance to the Capela dos Ossos (Bone Chapel) in Évora, Portugal.  Translation: “We bones, lying here bare, are awaiting yours.”

Inscription above the entrance to the Capela dos Ossos (Bone Chapel) in Évora, Portugal.  Translation: “We bones, lying here bare, are awaiting yours.”

Here are two corpses hanging from chains. Oh yeah, and some bones and skulls hanging out behind them.
They’re at the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), in Évora, Portugal. It’s a small interior chapel built in the 16th century. From Wikipedia:

Its walls and eight pillars are decorated in carefully arranged bones and skulls held together by cement. The ceiling is made of white painted brick and is painted with death motifs. The number of skeletons of monks was calculated to be about 5000, coming from the cemeteries that were situated inside several dozen churches. Some of these skulls have been scribbled with graffiti. Two desiccated corpses, one of which is a child, dangle from a chain.

You can view a 360-degree panorama of the chapel here. Despite the picture above, the place is really quite beautiful, especially the ceiling.

Here are two corpses hanging from chains. Oh yeah, and some bones and skulls hanging out behind them.

They’re at the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), in Évora, Portugal. It’s a small interior chapel built in the 16th century. From Wikipedia:

Its walls and eight pillars are decorated in carefully arranged bones and skulls held together by cement. The ceiling is made of white painted brick and is painted with death motifs. The number of skeletons of monks was calculated to be about 5000, coming from the cemeteries that were situated inside several dozen churches. Some of these skulls have been scribbled with graffiti. Two desiccated corpses, one of which is a child, dangle from a chain.

You can view a 360-degree panorama of the chapel here. Despite the picture above, the place is really quite beautiful, especially the ceiling.

Treponematosis by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Adult female aged over 45 years at death with pitted lesions to the cranial bones suggestive of syphilis. This individual had also undergone autopsy as is shown by the cut mark from a craniotemy.

Treponematosis by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Adult female aged over 45 years at death with pitted lesions to the cranial bones suggestive of syphilis. This individual had also undergone autopsy as is shown by the cut mark from a craniotemy.

Pretty much the coolest thing I’ve seen all week.
Pipe notch by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Adult male skeleton showing wear pattern to teeth resulting from long term pipe smoking

Pretty much the coolest thing I’ve seen all week.

Pipe notch by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Adult male skeleton showing wear pattern to teeth resulting from long term pipe smoking

Skull & Crossbones  by Ballyhooligan on Flickr.
Human Medical Skull by Ballyhooligan on Flickr:

A well used medical skull that came was part of a doctor’s estate. The skull cap is missing, as well as all of the teeth.

Human Medical Skull by Ballyhooligan on Flickr:

A well used medical skull that came was part of a doctor’s estate. The skull cap is missing, as well as all of the teeth.

Inscribed Skull by Ballyhooligan on Flickr.
P.S. I am really loving this guy’s Flickr.

Inscribed Skull by Ballyhooligan on Flickr.

P.S. I am really loving this guy’s Flickr.

Phossy Jaw by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Left mandible of 19th century male aged 26-35 years at death with bone changes suggesting possible phossy jaw.

"Phossy Jaw" (phosphorus necrosis of the jaw) was an occupational disease that afflicted 19th- and early-20th-century workers in match factories. It was caused by exposure to white phosphorous. From Wikipedia:

Those with phossy jaw would begin suffering painful toothaches and swelling of the gums. Over time, the jaw bone would begin to abscess. Affected bones would glow a greenish-white colour in the dark. It also caused serious brain damage. Surgical removal of the afflicted jaw bones could save the patient; otherwise, death from organ failure would follow. The disease was extremely painful and disfiguring to the patient, with dying bone tissue rotting away accompanied by a foul-smelling discharge.

The dangerous conditions that led to Phossy Jaw were among the reasons for the 1888 London matchgirls’ strike.

Phossy Jaw by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Left mandible of 19th century male aged 26-35 years at death with bone changes suggesting possible phossy jaw.

"Phossy Jaw" (phosphorus necrosis of the jaw) was an occupational disease that afflicted 19th- and early-20th-century workers in match factories. It was caused by exposure to white phosphorous. From Wikipedia:

Those with phossy jaw would begin suffering painful toothaches and swelling of the gums. Over time, the jaw bone would begin to abscess. Affected bones would glow a greenish-white colour in the dark. It also caused serious brain damage. Surgical removal of the afflicted jaw bones could save the patient; otherwise, death from organ failure would follow. The disease was extremely painful and disfiguring to the patient, with dying bone tissue rotting away accompanied by a foul-smelling discharge.

The dangerous conditions that led to Phossy Jaw were among the reasons for the 1888 London matchgirls’ strike.

Tuberculosis by museumoflondon on Flickr:

The upper spine of an individual dated to the 19th century showing severe destruction and collapse (Pott’s disease) through tuberculosis infection.

Interesting post on the Museum of London’s site about an event that was held in April about Victorian bones and diseases:

The Victorian period was a time of great change.  In London, the expanding city saw massive population growth and the development of new industries that were to alter the shape of the city forever.
With this change came an increased pressure on resources, leading to poor sanitation, overcrowded living conditions, increased pollution, poor diet and working conditions. This was to have a significant affect upon human health and life expectancy, and such squalid conditions would have contributed to the rise of disease.
Epidemics of smallpox, typhoid and cholera spread through the city and infectious diseases such as venereal syphilis and tuberculosis were rife. Rickets, scurvy, dental disease and many other conditions afflicted the population. The London Bills of Mortality record that approximately 40% of deaths occurred in children aged five or below. In the early nineteenth century, almost half the population would not live past their twentieth birthday.

Tuberculosis by museumoflondon on Flickr:

The upper spine of an individual dated to the 19th century showing severe destruction and collapse (Pott’s disease) through tuberculosis infection.

Interesting post on the Museum of London’s site about an event that was held in April about Victorian bones and diseases:

The Victorian period was a time of great change.  In London, the expanding city saw massive population growth and the development of new industries that were to alter the shape of the city forever.

With this change came an increased pressure on resources, leading to poor sanitation, overcrowded living conditions, increased pollution, poor diet and working conditions. This was to have a significant affect upon human health and life expectancy, and such squalid conditions would have contributed to the rise of disease.

Epidemics of smallpox, typhoid and cholera spread through the city and infectious diseases such as venereal syphilis and tuberculosis were rife. Rickets, scurvy, dental disease and many other conditions afflicted the population. The London Bills of Mortality record that approximately 40% of deaths occurred in children aged five or below. In the early nineteenth century, almost half the population would not live past their twentieth birthday.

Skeletons, mummies, bog bodies, exhumations. The dead, and what happens to them.

About | Archive

Categories:
Meet This Dead Person
Feats of Preservation
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Bog Bodies
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     Made to Look Alive

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