Deeper Underground Paris : The Empire of Death

As well as the amazing fossil finds the old quarry of Catacombes de Paris in the 18th Century it was filled with the bones of 6 million Parisians. If you are squeamish look away now. If not, please hand in your permission slip, tick the box to say you are over 15 and let's get spooky...

Stop! This is the Empire of Death

Stop! This is the Empire of Death

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The cavernous quarries became home to the remains of six million Parisians in the 18th Century when the overflowing Cemetery of Innocent had to be moved as it was causing infections in the area.

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Port Mahon Sculptures of the palace in Minorca in memory of the first Quarry Inspectors including  Decure who was imprisoned opposite the palace in the Balearic Islands for a long time. He was killed in a cave in during work in the quarry.

The styling of the bones and surrounding caverns is  known as "romantico-macabre".

The styling of the bones and surrounding caverns is  known as "romantico-macabre".

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"The removal of the bones began after the blessing of the place on April 7, 1786 and was continued until 1788, always at night and according to a ceremonial made up of a procession of priests who sang the burial service along the way borrowed by the tipcarts charged with bones and covered with a black veil. Thereafter, this place was used, until 1814, to collect the bones of all the cemeteries of Paris."

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This macabre labyrinth has attracted many visitors to satisfy their curiosity, including Ladies of the Court, Charles X, an Austrian Empoper and Napolean III and his son. To follow in their footsteps details can be found here.

Underground Paris - A Journey through Space & Time

Invitation to a Journey through Space and Time

I had my first chance to explore the re-opened Catacombs under Paris in December. We were lucky enough to visit when such a unique place, full of natural history as well as the macabre structures of human bones was eerily quiet as the minus temperatures above chilled the city air.

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"Between street level and the bottom of the Catacombs, the visitor is taken back nearly 45 million years in time. You go through a succession of increasingly ancient layers of rock until you reach a bed of limestone whih corresponds to a geological period called the "Lutetian" (between 48 and 40 million years ago)."

"The Quarryman's foot-bath"

"The Quarryman's foot-bath"

"This period was first identified in Paris called "Lutetian" after the ancient name for Paris, Lutetia. The official reference profile (GSSP) for Lutetian is located in the catacombs, at the water-well that bears the name Bain de pieds des carriers ("The Quarrymen's Foot-bath")."

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"The Lutetian doesn't actually account for very much time in the history of the Earth, which is 4,500 million years old. The dinosaurs disappeared 65 million years ago, while modern Man has only been developing for 200 000 years,"

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natural strata and man made supports above

natural strata and man made supports above

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You can read up on the Catacombs of Paris here and there will be a second more grisly post to follow...

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