The world is a mysterious place. The can of mystery highlights some of those mysteries. This site is a class project for Amanda Warren's English 101 class at the University of South Carolina Aiken.
Articles are uploaded once a year (on average) in the fall and/or spring.
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Catacombs of Paris are an underground cemetery located in Paris, France. The
catacombs contain the remains of over six million people. Skulls and bones are
aligned along the walls of the underground tunnel as it is a tourist attraction
to the public.
The catacombs for the dead were built in the late 1700’s
from various cemeteries around Paris. The Cemetery of the Innocents, now the
Great Central Market, was the first cemetery evacuated into the catacombs.
People protested that this cemetery constituted a public health danger. The
soil of the cemetery of the Innocents was said to be “flesh-eating.” It wasn’t
until 1785 authorities demolished the cemetery and removed the contents to an
old stone quarry in Paris. This was an underground system of tunnels and
passages. The transferring of skeletons from other cemeteries took around 15
months, along with the bodies that were demolished during the French
The presence of increased humidity and accelerated decay
on the bones would most likely dissatisfy some visitors. However, the remains
present themselves as part of a vast coral reef. They are a slow accretion of
minerals in a tideless sea of time. Many of these bones have been studied for
leprosy, a disease in which causes skin sores, nerve damage, and muscle
weakness. After being observed, none had any signs of Leprosy.
catacombs may seem as a site of disregard and desecration, but it was never
intended as such. Almost 200,000 people a year come to see the view of the
underworld and grasp an idea of mortality in the catacombs. The entrance into
the statured cemetery begins with a spiral stairway which consists of 130
steps. After reaching the level of tunnels and walking through long passages,
there is a giant iron door detailed with an inscription. Only by light can it
be seen and it says, “Arrềte! C’est ici
l’empire de la mort.” It means ‘Halt! This is the empire of the dead.’ On
the other side are the remains of the six million dead.
A boy having fun with creative lighting in the
catacombs have been the site of celebrated activities. In April 1897, a secret
concert was held for over hundreds of scholars, artists, writers, and members
of the Parisian government. This was the first of many festivities in the
underground graveyard. Every first week in December, students from Ecole de Mines,
a prestigious engineering school in France, are given a key to the catacombs
and they are allowed to throw a party. Their only rule is to clean up
catacombs may seem as if it is a haunted chamber filled with human remains but it’s
a great tourist attraction for the city of Paris. There is a meaning behind why
people would want to come visit the remains of those they have never met but
yet, find some kind of amusement from doing so.
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Moller. “An Examination of the Skulls in the Catacombs of Paris.” Medical History. 8 April 1964: 187-188.
Web. 11 October 2012
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Dead- Paris Catacombs” Photograph. National
Geographic Magazine. 1996-2012. Web. 22 October 2012
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