Strange Remains

Human remains in the news, strange history of corpses, and odd things that happen to human bones. #forensicanthropology #bioarchaeology
www.strangeremains.com
Parisian Awe-ssuary – The Bone-Filled Catacombs Underneath the City of Lights 
The Catacombs of Paris are a series of underground ossuaries that run for about 280km, or 170 miles.  The anonymous bones of the Catacombs are comingled in intricate patterns to form walls, columns, and artistic sculptures.  All of the bones from this monument came from local cemeteries in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The area in and around Paris has been permanently occupied since the Roman era.  When Paris was part of the Roman Empire, people buried their dead on the outskirts of the city.  Parisians changed to internments in consecrated burial grounds within the city after the rise of Christianity.
Cimetière des Innocents, or the Cemetery of the Innocents, was the oldest of these church graveyards.  The corpses from eighteen parishes, two hospitals, and the city morgue were all buried here.  By the 14th century, charneling on cemetery grounds became necessary because of the high density of bodies.  Eventually corpses were stacked on top of each other for meters underground and others had to be interred in mass graves.
The problem became so bad in the 18th century, after ten centuries of burials and decay, that bodies could no longer skeletonize in the soil.  Many of corpses saponified in the ground or putrified in huge holes that produced a rotting smell.  The cemetery became a health hazard because it was a source of disease and infection.
In 1785, the city prohibited further burials at the Cemetery of the Innocents and appointed a commission to find the best plan to remove the estimated two million remains buried there.  The commission decided that the abandoned quarries beneath Paris were the best place to entomb the bones.  The project had the added benefit of reinforcing the unstable mines, which had a nasty habit of collapsing and bringing down houses.
On April 7th 1786, a part of the tunnel system was consecrated and the long process of transferring the bones to the deserted mine was started.  The remains were moved by processions at night in black-draped carts and wagons that were led by chanting clergy.  After fifteen months, all of the bones from the Cemetery of Innocents were interned in the Catacombs.  The project was so successful that city officials repeated this effort with other local burial grounds.   When work was completed in the 1880’s, there were bones from an estimated six million bodies in the Catacombs.
The remains were left piled in unorganized heaps until 1810, when Napoleon authorized the General Inspector of the Quarries, Héricart de Thury, to renovate the Catacombs.  De Thury had the workers build artistic facades made of skulls and long bones behind which piles of the remaining bones were placed.

The Crypt of the Sepulchral Lamp (above) and the Rotonde des Tibias are some of the Catacomb’s most famous skull-ptures.  The Crypt of the Sepulchral Lamp, the first monument built in the catacombs, is in the Place de Saint-Laurent where the bones from the Saint-Laurent Cemetery were arranged.  The Sepulchral Lamp was originally used by the quarrymen for light and airflow but de Thury kept it as a centerpiece for this chamber.  The Rotonde des Tibias is a huge column constructed out of skulls, tibiae, and femora is in the final section of the walking tour.
There are over 200 entrances to the Catacombs because of its history as a mine, but there is only one “official” entrance, located at 1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy – 75014 Paris.  Because there is too many entry points for security to monitor at all times, people are able to sneak in regularly.
The cavers who illegally explore the Catacombs are called cataphiles.  These people spends hundreds and thousands of hours down in the intricate cave system, some become so familiar with the tunnels that they don’t need maps.  Many of these urban explorers are dedicated filmmakers, artists, and writers with good intentions, but there are a few people who sneak in and are destructive.  In fact, the Catacombs have been shut down a few times over the years because of vandalism.
The Catacombs are open daily from 10am to 5pm, except Mondays and public holidays. But get there early because wait times are estimated to between three and four hours.
References:
Koudounaris, P. (2011).  The Empire of Death.  New York, NY: Thames and Hudson.
Ubelaker, D.H. Zarenk, K.M. (2010).  Adipocere: What is known after two centuries of Research. Forensic Science International. 2008 (2011): 167-172. Retrieved from: http://pawsoflife-org.k9handleracademy.com/Library/HRD/Ubelaker_2011.pdf

Parisian Awe-ssuary – The Bone-Filled Catacombs Underneath the City of Lights 

The Catacombs of Paris are a series of underground ossuaries that run for about 280km, or 170 miles.  The anonymous bones of the Catacombs are comingled in intricate patterns to form walls, columns, and artistic sculptures.  All of the bones from this monument came from local cemeteries in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The area in and around Paris has been permanently occupied since the Roman era.  When Paris was part of the Roman Empire, people buried their dead on the outskirts of the city.  Parisians changed to internments in consecrated burial grounds within the city after the rise of Christianity.

Cimetière des Innocents, or the Cemetery of the Innocents, was the oldest of these church graveyards.  The corpses from eighteen parishes, two hospitals, and the city morgue were all buried here.  By the 14th century, charneling on cemetery grounds became necessary because of the high density of bodies.  Eventually corpses were stacked on top of each other for meters underground and others had to be interred in mass graves.

The problem became so bad in the 18th century, after ten centuries of burials and decay, that bodies could no longer skeletonize in the soil.  Many of corpses saponified in the ground or putrified in huge holes that produced a rotting smell.  The cemetery became a health hazard because it was a source of disease and infection.

In 1785, the city prohibited further burials at the Cemetery of the Innocents and appointed a commission to find the best plan to remove the estimated two million remains buried there.  The commission decided that the abandoned quarries beneath Paris were the best place to entomb the bones.  The project had the added benefit of reinforcing the unstable mines, which had a nasty habit of collapsing and bringing down houses.

On April 7th 1786, a part of the tunnel system was consecrated and the long process of transferring the bones to the deserted mine was started.  The remains were moved by processions at night in black-draped carts and wagons that were led by chanting clergy.  After fifteen months, all of the bones from the Cemetery of Innocents were interned in the Catacombs.  The project was so successful that city officials repeated this effort with other local burial grounds.   When work was completed in the 1880’s, there were bones from an estimated six million bodies in the Catacombs.

The remains were left piled in unorganized heaps until 1810, when Napoleon authorized the General Inspector of the Quarries, Héricart de Thury, to renovate the Catacombs.  De Thury had the workers build artistic facades made of skulls and long bones behind which piles of the remaining bones were placed.

The Crypt of the Sepulchral Lamp (above) and the Rotonde des Tibias are some of the Catacomb’s most famous skull-ptures.  The Crypt of the Sepulchral Lamp, the first monument built in the catacombs, is in the Place de Saint-Laurent where the bones from the Saint-Laurent Cemetery were arranged.  The Sepulchral Lamp was originally used by the quarrymen for light and airflow but de Thury kept it as a centerpiece for this chamber.  The Rotonde des Tibias is a huge column constructed out of skulls, tibiae, and femora is in the final section of the walking tour.

There are over 200 entrances to the Catacombs because of its history as a mine, but there is only one “official” entrance, located at 1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy – 75014 Paris.  Because there is too many entry points for security to monitor at all times, people are able to sneak in regularly.

The cavers who illegally explore the Catacombs are called cataphiles.  These people spends hundreds and thousands of hours down in the intricate cave system, some become so familiar with the tunnels that they don’t need maps.  Many of these urban explorers are dedicated filmmakers, artists, and writers with good intentions, but there are a few people who sneak in and are destructive.  In fact, the Catacombs have been shut down a few times over the years because of vandalism.

The Catacombs are open daily from 10am to 5pm, except Mondays and public holidays. But get there early because wait times are estimated to between three and four hours.

References:

Koudounaris, P. (2011).  The Empire of Death.  New York, NY: Thames and Hudson.

Ubelaker, D.H. Zarenk, K.M. (2010).  Adipocere: What is known after two centuries of Research. Forensic Science International. 2008 (2011): 167-172. Retrieved from: http://pawsoflife-org.k9handleracademy.com/Library/HRD/Ubelaker_2011.pdf

(Source: commons.wikimedia.org)

kabwe1:

Unilateral lumbarisation of the first sacral segment (S1), classified as Castellvi type 2A. This case is very interesting because it is combined with the assimilation of the first coccygeal segment. So, while there seems to be 6 lumbal vertebrae, sacrum seems “normal” with 4 pairs of foraminae sacralis. Foraminal stenosis could cause nerve impingement, via osteophytes formation. (medieval skeleton from Serbia).
 

kabwe1:

Unilateral lumbarisation of the first sacral segment (S1), classified as Castellvi type 2A. This case is very interesting because it is combined with the assimilation of the first coccygeal segment. So, while there seems to be 6 lumbal vertebrae, sacrum seems “normal” with 4 pairs of foraminae sacralis. Foraminal stenosis could cause nerve impingement, via osteophytes formation. (medieval skeleton from Serbia).

 

(via ljspillowbook)

The dental aesthetic of symmetrical white teeth is a modern European standard, but for many people the dental ideal involves carved, stained and/or bejeweled teeth.  This is because artificially modified front teeth can communicate cultural affiliation, determine physical attractiveness, and indicate status.
These extreme forms of body modification have been practiced by cultures around the world for thousands of years using chisels, machetes, leaves, soot, and drills. But thanks to modern advancements in dentistry, people in the Western world can make similar dental statements without the pain or long-term commitment using temporary porcelain caps.
Inlays
Hundreds of years ago people used inlays to decorate their teeth with precious metals and stones as a way to signal their high social status. An inlay is a solid material, like a jewel or stone, which is set in a drilled cavity of a tooth. The Mayan culture was particularly good at this type of tooth modification.
In addition to architectural and astronomical advancements, the Mayans also had great dental embellishment skills that were used to chisel teeth into different shapes and to set carved stone dental inlays. The Mayan dental bling experts used a round copper tube as a drill, shaped like a drinking straw, and applied a powdered quartz abrasive to cut a circular hole through the tooth enamel. Then inlays made out of jade, pyrite, hematite, turquoise, or quartz were set into the holes. This extreme body modification was reserved for the Mayan upper classes.

In 2013, archaeologists discovered a 1400-year-old mass grave in an artificial cave at the site of the Mayan city Uxul in Mexico. During the excavation the research team found the bodies of 24 people, some of which had been dismembered. The archaeologists working at the site believed the dead in the mass grave were nobles because some of the bodies had jade tooth inlays.
Today celebrities can get the same bejeweled look, without drilling into their teeth, using “grillz.” “Grillz,” or “fronts,” are removable, embellished dental covers made with precious metals like gold and will often have diamonds embedded in them.


Though grillz started out as a fashion statement in the hip-hop community, they evolved into afashion accessory when celebrities like Madonna, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Beyonce sported them. There’s a reason they’re for the wealthy – they aren’t cheap. A six-tooth gold front can cost anywhere between $240 and $500, and the prices sky-rocket once diamonds are added.

Read about dental staining, filing, carving, and inlays at Strange Remains
Also Stylish deformities: The ways that fashion has flattened, bent, and broken bones.

The dental aesthetic of symmetrical white teeth is a modern European standard, but for many people the dental ideal involves carved, stained and/or bejeweled teeth.  This is because artificially modified front teeth can communicate cultural affiliation, determine physical attractiveness, and indicate status.

These extreme forms of body modification have been practiced by cultures around the world for thousands of years using chisels, machetes, leaves, soot, and drills. But thanks to modern advancements in dentistry, people in the Western world can make similar dental statements without the pain or long-term commitment using temporary porcelain caps.

Inlays

Hundreds of years ago people used inlays to decorate their teeth with precious metals and stones as a way to signal their high social status. An inlay is a solid material, like a jewel or stone, which is set in a drilled cavity of a tooth. The Mayan culture was particularly good at this type of tooth modification.

In addition to architectural and astronomical advancements, the Mayans also had great dental embellishment skills that were used to chisel teeth into different shapes and to set carved stone dental inlays. The Mayan dental bling experts used a round copper tube as a drill, shaped like a drinking straw, and applied a powdered quartz abrasive to cut a circular hole through the tooth enamel. Then inlays made out of jade, pyrite, hematite, turquoise, or quartz were set into the holes. This extreme body modification was reserved for the Mayan upper classes.

In 2013, archaeologists discovered a 1400-year-old mass grave in an artificial cave at the site of the Mayan city Uxul in Mexico. During the excavation the research team found the bodies of 24 people, some of which had been dismembered. The archaeologists working at the site believed the dead in the mass grave were nobles because some of the bodies had jade tooth inlays.

Today celebrities can get the same bejeweled look, without drilling into their teeth, using “grillz.” “Grillz,” or “fronts,” are removable, embellished dental covers made with precious metals like gold and will often have diamonds embedded in them.

Though grillz started out as a fashion statement in the hip-hop community, they evolved into afashion accessory when celebrities like MadonnaKaty PerryRihanna, and Beyonce sported them. There’s a reason they’re for the wealthy – they aren’t cheap. A six-tooth gold front can cost anywhere between $240 and $500, and the prices sky-rocket once diamonds are added.

Read about dental staining, filing, carving, and inlays at Strange Remains

Also Stylish deformities: The ways that fashion has flattened, bent, and broken bones.

theoddcollection:

German Lunatic from the “Morton Collection of Skulls”, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia.

theoddcollection:

German Lunatic from the “Morton Collection of Skulls”, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia.

(via theodditiesblog)

The dental aesthetic of symmetrical white teeth is a modern European standard, but for many people the dental ideal involves carved, stained and/or bejeweled teeth.  This is because artificially modified front teeth can communicate cultural affiliation, determine physical attractiveness, and indicate status.
These extreme forms of body modification have been practiced by cultures around the world for thousands of years using chisels, machetes, leaves, soot, and drills. But thanks to modern advancements in dentistry, people in the Western world can make similar dental statements without the pain or long-term commitment using temporary porcelain caps.
Dental Etching and Filing
For thousands of years, indigenous populations all over the world have etched patterns, like cross-hatch and parallel lines, into the enamel of their teeth. Archaeologists have found evidence of intentional dental carvings in graves found in North America, Mesoamerica, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
The Vikings lived in Scandinavia from AD 750-1100 and were just as famous for their advances in maritime navigation as their raids on villages and monasteries. They also had a reputation for being filthy and unrefined, but Vikings actually spent a lot of time on their appearance. Archaeologists have unearthed evidence that Vikings groomed their beards and used hot rocks to iron their clothes.
There is also evidence that they etched striations into their teeth then painted the striations with red resin and charcoal as a way to intimidate their enemies. Archaeologists have found skulls with horizontal lines engraved in the front teeth in Sweden, Denmark, and England.

In 2005 Caroline Arcini published her research on Viking dental filing in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Arcini looked at the skulls of 24 men from the Viking Age (ca. 800-1050 AD) found in Sweden and Denmark that had 2 or more horizontally, parallel lines in the teeth.
In 2009 archaeologists discovered a mass grave in Dorset, England with 51 beheaded skulls and 54 dismembered bodies. The bones in the grave dated to between 970 and 1025 AD, a time when the Vikings were raiding the Anglo Saxons in the UK.   One of the skulls in this mass grave had lines carved in the front teeth. Isotope analysis on the teeth revealed that this person was from a Nordic country.
Another form of dental modification is the filing of teeth into different shapes, which has been practiced by people inMesoamerica, Asia, and Africa for thousands of years. In 2006 archaeologists working in the Malian Sahara found the earliest evidence of artificial dental modification in West Africa with teeth that dated to about 3000 BC and had been chiseled into sharp points. Archaeologists have also found teeth from the Mayan culture that were carved into ornate shapes.
Today, this type of tooth modification is practiced Indonesia.  The Mentawai people are an indigenous group in the coastal and rainforest environments of the West Sumatra province of Indonesia. The Mentawai believe women with sharpened teeth are more attractive and the practice establishes a balance between body and soul. Below is a National Geographic video of Mantawai woman who undergoes a painful tooth sharpening ceremony.

Today in the extreme body modification culture, people sharpen their teeth to emulate animals.Eric Sprague, known as the Lizardman, is a freak show performer who sharpened his teeth into fangs, had his tongue split in two, and underwent 700 hours of tattooing to look like a lizard.Dennis Avner, known as Stalking Cat, tattooed his face; had whiskers implanted; had his ears, lips, and nose surgically altered; and had is teeth filed and capped to look like a cat.

Because dental filing can weaken teeth, many people choose to sharpen them with porcelain caps. Recently, in Japan a trend called yaeba, or “double tooth,” became popular. Yaeba is a dental procedure where the upper canines are capped with sharpened points to achieve a snaggletooth smile, because it is considered an attractive, youthful trait.

Read about dental staining, filing, carving, and inlays at Strange Remains
Also Stylish deformities: The ways that fashion has flattened, bent, and broken bones.

The dental aesthetic of symmetrical white teeth is a modern European standard, but for many people the dental ideal involves carved, stained and/or bejeweled teeth.  This is because artificially modified front teeth can communicate cultural affiliation, determine physical attractiveness, and indicate status.

These extreme forms of body modification have been practiced by cultures around the world for thousands of years using chisels, machetes, leaves, soot, and drills. But thanks to modern advancements in dentistry, people in the Western world can make similar dental statements without the pain or long-term commitment using temporary porcelain caps.

Dental Etching and Filing

For thousands of years, indigenous populations all over the world have etched patterns, like cross-hatch and parallel lines, into the enamel of their teeth. Archaeologists have found evidence of intentional dental carvings in graves found in North America, Mesoamerica, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

The Vikings lived in Scandinavia from AD 750-1100 and were just as famous for their advances in maritime navigation as their raids on villages and monasteries. They also had a reputation for being filthy and unrefined, but Vikings actually spent a lot of time on their appearance. Archaeologists have unearthed evidence that Vikings groomed their beards and used hot rocks to iron their clothes.

There is also evidence that they etched striations into their teeth then painted the striations with red resin and charcoal as a way to intimidate their enemies. Archaeologists have found skulls with horizontal lines engraved in the front teeth in Sweden, Denmark, and England.

In 2005 Caroline Arcini published her research on Viking dental filing in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Arcini looked at the skulls of 24 men from the Viking Age (ca. 800-1050 AD) found in Sweden and Denmark that had 2 or more horizontally, parallel lines in the teeth.

In 2009 archaeologists discovered a mass grave in Dorset, England with 51 beheaded skulls and 54 dismembered bodies. The bones in the grave dated to between 970 and 1025 AD, a time when the Vikings were raiding the Anglo Saxons in the UK.   One of the skulls in this mass grave had lines carved in the front teeth. Isotope analysis on the teeth revealed that this person was from a Nordic country.

Another form of dental modification is the filing of teeth into different shapes, which has been practiced by people inMesoamericaAsia, and Africa for thousands of years. In 2006 archaeologists working in the Malian Sahara found the earliest evidence of artificial dental modification in West Africa with teeth that dated to about 3000 BC and had been chiseled into sharp points. Archaeologists have also found teeth from the Mayan culture that were carved into ornate shapes.

Today, this type of tooth modification is practiced Indonesia.  The Mentawai people are an indigenous group in the coastal and rainforest environments of the West Sumatra province of Indonesia. The Mentawai believe women with sharpened teeth are more attractive and the practice establishes a balance between body and soul. Below is a National Geographic video of Mantawai woman who undergoes a painful tooth sharpening ceremony.

Today in the extreme body modification culture, people sharpen their teeth to emulate animals.Eric Sprague, known as the Lizardman, is a freak show performer who sharpened his teeth into fangs, had his tongue split in two, and underwent 700 hours of tattooing to look like a lizard.Dennis Avner, known as Stalking Cat, tattooed his face; had whiskers implanted; had his ears, lips, and nose surgically altered; and had is teeth filed and capped to look like a cat.

Because dental filing can weaken teeth, many people choose to sharpen them with porcelain caps. Recently, in Japan a trend called yaeba, or “double tooth,” became popular. Yaeba is a dental procedure where the upper canines are capped with sharpened points to achieve a snaggletooth smile, because it is considered an attractive, youthful trait.

Read about dental staining, filing, carving, and inlays at Strange Remains

Also Stylish deformities: The ways that fashion has flattened, bent, and broken bones.