Empire of Death

Empire of Death : A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses

4.53 (317 ratings by Goodreads)
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In this tour de force of original cultural history, Paul Koudounaris takes the reader on an unprecedented international tour of macabre and devotional architectural masterpieces in nearly 20 countries. This is the first book to bring together the world's most important charnel sites, ranging from the crypts of the Capuchin monasteries in Italy and the skull-encrusted columns of the ossuary in Evora in Portugal, to the strange tomb of a 1960s wealthy Peruvian nobleman decorated with the exhumed skeletons of his Spanish ancestors. Illustrated with specially taken photographs of sites rarely open to the public and forgotten archive images of others long destroyed, this mesmerising, shocking and deeply moving book is an essential memento mori for our modern age.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 231.14 x 309.88 x 27.94mm | 1,519.53g
  • Thames & Hudson Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 421 illustrations, 290 in colour
  • 0500251789
  • 9780500251782
  • 32,913

Review quote

...an astounding achievement, both as a literary and photographic work. . . . an astounding achievement, both as a literary and photographic work. Koudounaris gracefully transcends mere ghastliness and ghoulishness to challenge cultural perceptions of death, both current and centuries old. The result is not only a highly original work of great visual beauty and rigorous scholarship but also a surprisingly intimate and tender meditation on what the author calls 'the dialogue with the dead.' The photos of the skulls alone justify the purchase.
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Rating details

317 ratings
4.53 out of 5 stars
5 64% (202)
4 27% (87)
3 8% (26)
2 0% (1)
1 0% (1)
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