The Empire of Death: Spectacular Ossuaries and Relics in the 16th and 17th Centuries


Photo: © Dr. Paul Koudounaris, from his book The Empire of Death

Lecture and book signing with Dr. Paul Koudounaris, author of The Empire of Death
Date: Thursday, October 13
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Presented by Morbid Anatomy and Atlas Obscura
** Books will be available for sale and signing

For five years, Dr. Paul Koudounaris has traveled the world to document a largely overlooked history: the decoration of religious shrines with human bones and remains in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His newly published book The Empire of Death (Thames and Hudson) presents a collection of Koudounaris’ photographs and texts chronicling these incredible sites, many of which are not open to the public and have never before been photographed.

The research for this unique book took the author to over 70 preserved charnel houses and skeletal shrines on four continents to document the once common use of human remains for the veneration of the dead in Christian culture. Among other tribulations, in the course of completing his research, the author was pursued by malevolent spirits, handcuffed to a table in a striptease bar by a prurient monk, forced to undergo a religious pilgrimage and exorcism, and arrested by the Austrian police.

Tonight, join Dr. Koudounarishis for an illustrated talk in which he will provide historical insights into the sites and people who created these marvelous objects and spaces, a discussion of the veneration of the dead in Christian culture, and fantastical travel anecdotes, all illustrated by his breathtaking photographs of these unforgettable artifacts.

Paul Koudounaris received a PhD in Art History from UCLA in 2006, which a specialty in the Baroque. He has taught at major universities in the Los Angeles area, and has written for dozens of magazines and newspapers in several countries, specializing in articles about veneration of the dead.

Comments are closed.