Bones, Bones, Bones in the Catacombs / by Hannah Harley


WARNING: These are images of bones. If that's the kind of thing that upsets you, please don't feel like you should continue scrolling through these images. 3V2A1886EDITED

Translation: Stop! This here is the empire of the dead.


Paris' Catacombs require some preplanning, and we were able to get it together yesterday! I went with my two friends, Kasey and Hanan; I think I ended up with a very different reaction than either one of them.


When Paris' center cemeteries became over crowded and a health risk to those living around them, the city decided to move all of the dead into the abandoned mines under Paris. Without a care as to who these people were or their religious beliefs, they were unceremoniously tossed into these mines. Some of the dead hadn't been dead for even fifty years.

Half way through the project, one of the overseers thought that a little decoration with the bones would help ease the dead. Then, they placed the bones into the patterns you see pictured here. Some of the bones are placed according to cemetery.


And now, they get to be center subject in how many tourist's selfies. These bones have rubbed, taken, graffitied, broken.


To me, it felt like these individuals lost their voice when they died, and they became a tourist attraction.


I get that I might sound a little cynical, and I might be a little too grouchy about it. I think it just depends on your view of the afterlife. I found the whole arrangement to be considerably disrespectful, but I think, in that, I am in the minority. It is a beautiful display, and it was a necessary move for the health of Paris' citizens.


But in the efforts to create beauty, sometimes, bad things happen. The man who was in charge of the decorative sculptures below was killed about 4 feet from this spot when a portion of the mine collapsed.



Hallway after hallway after hallway... There are approximately six million people buried in the underground network under Paris.


The well for the miners to wash their feet -- the only color that deep below ground



In a way, I want to say, "they're just bones! Whatever", but I keep thinking, "but they're someone's bones"