The Empire of Death by Paul Koudounaris is a must-have book for any skull lover. I was lucky enough to win this beautiful edition through another skull-themed website called Obsessed With Skulls. I actually received my signed copy around 16:30 on Christmas eve, and boy was I happy, as it turns out it was my best Christmas gift (but don’t tell my girlfriend that).
The Empire of Death is available from Amazon and is on offer for £19.16.
The Empire of Death is a cultural history of ossuaries and charnel houses. Paul Koudounaris takes us on a well-documented and beautifully illustrative tour of numerous tombs which are situated throughout Europe including famous sites such as the Catacombs of Paris, the Sedlec Ossuary and the crypt of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini. The book actually got its name from the Catacombs in Paris where visitors are greeted with a sign telling them they are about to enter The Empire of Death.
Most of the tombs are covered top-to-bottom in skulls and bones, with the focus being human bone. These marvellously macabre surroundings are rather harrowing but intriguing too as they tell a story of religion, cultures, beliefs and views from different centuries past through architectural masterpieces.
Some of the images below have been taken from the book can also be bought as prints if you follow this link here.
Skeleton of Pancratius
Robed skeleton from Roman Cataccombs
Bavarian painted skulls (Dingolfing, Germany)
Capela dos Ossos (Alcantarilha, Portugal)
Mummified monk in the crypt of Santa Maria delle Concezione (Rome, Italy)
I have yet to finish it but so far it has blown my mind right out of my skull and back again. I would suggest getting yourself a copy now and get yourself educated on the interesting world of death.