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Italy’s most ghoulish site, this crypt houses thousands of corpses, fully dressed and hung from hooks. The practice began in 1599 when local priests mummified a holy monk and allowed visitors. Soon regular residents of Palermo wanted to be remembered in this fashion. Bodies are arranged by gender and profession; their facial expressions often eerily visible.
Screaming or laughing? In a sand-dusted cemetery in the desert, 30 kilometers south of the city of Nazca in Peru, lie the skeletal remains of an ancient people. Inside the open tombs there are not simply scattered bones but whole human mummies, as well as archeological artifacts. Skulls leer up at those souls who venture down the dirt track that leads to this sepulchral site; skeletons in virtually the same ghastly poses in which they were frozen a millennium and more ago.
Early mourning jewelry such as rings and pendants with skeletons or skull and crossbones reflects Memento Mori or As I Am So Shall You Be. The earliest depictions of these items are thought to go back to the late Middle Ages during the virulent plague known as The Black Death. This plague was a catastrophic pandemic that swept Europe beginning in 1347 and killing millions of people. It is thought to have inspired images reminding the viewer that death comes to all regardless of their station ...