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The Empire of Death


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Table of Contents

Introduction: A Dialogue with Death * 1. Ars Moriendi: The Early Charnel Houses * 2. The Golden Age: Counter-Reformation Macabre * 3. The Triumph of Death: Nineteenth-Century Visions in Bone * 4. Heavenly Souls: Spiritualism and Mythology in The Bone Pile * 5. Forget Me Not: Ossuaries as Commemorative Sites * 6. Resurrecting the Dead: Conservation and Reconstruction

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A remarkable and richly illustrated volume detailing the manifold ways in which human bones have been displayed around the world. Glorious, gruesome and unique

About the Author

Paul Koudounaris has a doctorate in Art History from the University of California and has written widely on European ossuaries and charnel houses for both academic and popular journals.


'The extraordinary displays of human bones in Europe's charnel houses may now seem utterly bewildering to us, but 'The Empire of Death' reveals fascinating insights into these misunderstood religious monuments' - Metro
'Impressive and readable ... an excellent memento mori for our age and a work which is the result of considerable endeavour by the author' - The Historical Association
'Death can be so beautiful. That's what comes over most powerfully in this cultural history of charnel houses ... Many of the buildings are closed to the public, making reading the book feel rather like a date with destiny' - Time Out London
'Well written, richly referenced and contains some cracking quotes ... the book is imbued with a timeless, classy appeal ... If you're into art, history, culture, eschatology or are just plain weird then you will be impressed by this beautiful book' - The Royal College of Pathologists Bulletin

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