AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL MOMENT – MORTALITY

FACE TO FACE WITH OUR MORTALITY – THE CATACOMBS OF PARIS

The Catacombs of Paris or Catacombes de Paris are underground ossuarys located south of the former city gate (the “Barrière d’Enfer” at today’s Place Denfert-Rochereau), in earlier times a very desolate place which in the 1700′s was known as Hell, because nobody lived there. It is estimated that the ossuary holds the remains of about six million people and fills a renovated section of caverns and tunnels that are the remains of Paris’s stone mines. Parts of the tunnel system are open to the public, but most of the nearly 200-mile network of old caves, tunnels and quarries is off limits. Upon the necessary closure of the City’s principal cemetery Les Innocents, which was overflowing, stinking and filled with pestilence, a place had to be found for its contents. The abandoned, but renovated tunnel system was chosen. From the time of an opening ceremony on the 7th of April 1785, the route between Les Innocents and the ‘clos de la Tombe-Issoire’ became a nightly procession of black cloth-covered wagons, piled high with the bones and remains of the millions of Parisian dead. It would take two years to empty the majority of Paris’ cemeteries. Paris must have been a very interesting place back then…

AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL MOMENT – MORTALITY

Photo taken in the Catacombs of Paris in May 2011

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© 2014 nightpoet all rights reserved

Categories: Archaeology, Paris, Perspective, Photography | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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