A new book focusing on the world’s most important charnel sites goes on sale this month, examining morbid masterpieces of art created from human remains between the 16th–19th centuries.
During this period great charnel houses were built on consecrated ground to preserve the bones of the dead which had been disinterred to make room for the newly buried, and it was widely believed that they would be resurrected and clothed in divine glory at the Second Coming of Christ.
The 224-page hardback book is written by Paul Koudounaris, who spent three years visiting 18 countries to see the phenomenen for himself – from the crypts of the Capuchin monasteries in Italy to the ossuary in Évora in Portugal. The book is richly illustrated with modern and archive images.
The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses by Paul Koudounaris is published by Thames & Hudson on 17 October 2011, priced at £29.95. For more information, visit the Thames & Hudson website.
Take a look at some of our other galleries, including the launch of Titanic and pioneers of polar exploration at www.historyextra.com/feature/galleries