Sunshine Recorder

The Catacombs of Paris

Paris has a deeper and stranger connection to its underground than almost any city, and that underground is one of the richest. The arteries and intestines of Paris, the hundreds of miles of tunnels that make up some of the oldest and densest subway and sewer networks in the world, are just the start of it. Under Paris there are spaces of all kinds: canals and reservoirs, crypts and bank vaults, wine cellars transformed into nightclubs and galleries. Most surprising of all are the carrières—the old stone quarries that fan out in a deep and intricate web under many neighborhoods, mostly in the southern part of the metropolis.

These sections of caverns and tunnels have been transformed into underground ossuaries, holding the remains of about 6 million people. Opened in the late 18th century, the underground cemetery became a tourist attraction on a small scale from the early 19th century, and has been open to the public on a regular basis from 1874.

The official name for these subterranean veins is l’Ossuaire Municipal. Although the cemetery portion covers only a small section of underground tunnels comprising “les carrières de Paris”, Parisians today often refer to the entire tunnel network as “The Catacombs.”

(Source: cmfcknw, via marmaladeandcreamcheese)


Mysterious Viking-era Graves Found With Treasure
Photo: Sword at his side, the so-called Young Warrior (left) is among the thousand-year-old discoveries in a newfound cemetery in Poland, a new study says.

The burial ground holds not only a hoard of precious objects but also hints of human sacrifice—and several dozen graves of a mysterious people with links to both the Vikings and the rulers of the founding states of eastern Europe.
Researchers are especially intrigued by the Young Warrior, who died a violent death in his 20s. The man’s jaw is fractured, his skull laced with cut marks. The sword provides further evidence of a martial life. Objects in the warrior’s grave suggest he had ties to one of the region’s earliest Slavic monarchs, said the project leader Andrzej Buko, head of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology at the Polish Academy of Sciences. But the north-south orientation of the man’s body is a Scandinavian custom. Slavic graves were oriented east-west, Buko says. Buried just below the Young Warrior—probably at the same time, Buko said—is a woman in her early 20s who may have met a similarly violent end. Though evidence is scanty, Buko guesses she was killed to be buried with the man, “because it’s very hard to suppose she died at the same moment as the warrior.” Archaeologists stumbled upon the cemetery, which dates to the late 10th and early 11th centuries, after surveying a highway-construction site near the village of Bodzia, roughly 90 miles (150 kilometers) northwest of Warsaw. The find is reported in this month’s issue of the journal Antiquity.

Read more.

Mysterious Viking-era Graves Found With Treasure

Photo: Sword at his side, the so-called Young Warrior (left) is among the thousand-year-old discoveries in a newfound cemetery in Poland, a new study says.

The burial ground holds not only a hoard of precious objects but also hints of human sacrifice—and several dozen graves of a mysterious people with links to both the Vikings and the rulers of the founding states of eastern Europe.

Researchers are especially intrigued by the Young Warrior, who died a violent death in his 20s. The man’s jaw is fractured, his skull laced with cut marks. The sword provides further evidence of a martial life. Objects in the warrior’s grave suggest he had ties to one of the region’s earliest Slavic monarchs, said the project leader Andrzej Buko, head of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology at the Polish Academy of Sciences. But the north-south orientation of the man’s body is a Scandinavian custom. Slavic graves were oriented east-west, Buko says. Buried just below the Young Warrior—probably at the same time, Buko said—is a woman in her early 20s who may have met a similarly violent end. Though evidence is scanty, Buko guesses she was killed to be buried with the man, “because it’s very hard to suppose she died at the same moment as the warrior.” Archaeologists stumbled upon the cemetery, which dates to the late 10th and early 11th centuries, after surveying a highway-construction site near the village of Bodzia, roughly 90 miles (150 kilometers) northwest of Warsaw. The find is reported in this month’s issue of the journal Antiquity.

Read more.

Link: The Battle of Towton

The men whose skeletons were unearthed at Towton were a diverse lot. Their ages at time of death ranged widely. It is easier to be precise about younger individuals, thanks to the predictable ways in which teeth develop and bones fuse during a person’s adolescence and 20s. The youngest occupants of the mass grave were around 17 years old; the oldest, Towton 16, was around 50. Their stature varies greatly, too. The men’s height ranges from 1.5-1.8 metres (just under five feet to just under six feet), with the older men, almost certainly experienced soldiers, being the tallest. […] The soldier now known as Towton 25 had survived battle before. A healed skull fracture points to previous engagements. He was old enough—somewhere between 36 and 45 when he died—to have gained plenty of experience of fighting. But on March 29th 1461, his luck ran out. Towton 25 suffered eight wounds to his head that day. The precise order can be worked out from the direction of fractures on his skull: when bone breaks, the cracks veer towards existing areas of weakness. The first five blows were delivered by a bladed weapon to the left-hand side of his head, presumably by a right-handed opponent standing in front of him. None is likely to have been lethal. Read More.

Fascinating and well researched article about medieval warfare in England. A mass grave at Towton was found and since then, researchers and archaeologists have been piecing together what happened. It’s pretty amazing how much detail they can recover from these centuries-old skeletons.

Holiday gift alert! The beautiful coffee table book Evolution by Jean-Baptiste de Panafieu (text) and Patrick Gries (photography) has recently been re-released in a new expanded version.

About the book:

Unprecedented in its approach, the number and diversity of the species presented, and the quality of the photographs, Evolution is the book on how we came to be what we are. Spectacular, mysterious, elegant, or grotesque, the skeletons of the vertebrates that inhabit the earth today carry within them the imprint of an evolutionary process that has lasted several billion years. This book is the result of a dual approach, scientific as well as aesthetic, rigorous yet accessible. Each chapter is made up of a short text that illuminates one theme of the evolutionary process—repetition, adaptation, polymorphism, sexual selection, and more—and a series of exquisitely composed photographs of skeletons against a black background. Approximately three hundred photographs of whole skeletons or their details have been made possible by the French National Museum of Natural History. The reader learns, by experiencing each text and photograph together, how the structure of every creature has been shaped by its environmental and genetic inheritance.

(via staceythinx)