I’m participating in the A to Z Challenge for the entire month of April, by posting an interesting topic for each letter of the alphabet. This excludes Sneak Peek Sundays. Follow this link to nearly 2000 other bloggers and authors.
The A to Z Challenge – participating blogs
Today’s Calliope’s Writing Tablet post is brought to you by the letter N — N for Necropolis.
Necropolis literally means City of the Dead. No, nothing to do with zombies and other dystopian denizens on the graveyard shift. I’m referring to large cemeteries. From the curious London Necropolis Railway (yes, you read that right), to the Great Pyramid in Egypt, and everything in between, man has obviously contemplated death. I suppose I do too. I love old cemeteries for their history, artistry, symbolism, and tranquility. The romance writer I am recognizes the testament to love and regard found there.
Upon visiting Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C., I was struck by two things. First of all, I found it emotionally moving and weeped as I walked. Secondly, at 624 acres, it was huge. The grand size is small compared to Iraq’s 1485.5 acre Waadi-us-Salaam. That necropolis may be the largest in the world. We’ve added to both in the last ten years, and that is incredibly sad.
While researching the Paris Catacombs for my magnum opus (my huge unfinished, 500k word, 5-volume work of fiction), I was struck by the fact many of these historical resting places have the bones of people who succumbed to TB, smallpox, plague, and other infectious diseases. Hold that thought.
Many years ago I came upon a story of an outbreak of meningitis at a new school. What was discovered was the school playground was built on top of an old cemetery, and it just so happened this cemetery held the bodies of people who died during a meningitis outbreak many decades before. So I’m left to wonder about the tourists who walk the catacombs and churn boney dust into the air with each step. Do these pathogens have any oomph left in them?
And that’s why I write!
So to get back on track, here are a few definitions:
- Cemetery is the most familiar final resting place creatively named by the Greeks for the Sleeping Place.
- Catacombs are underground cemeteries, often consisting of tunnels and rooms with recesses for coffins and larger tombs.
- An Ossuary is a place to store bones after the body is removed from its temporary grave. They’re often arranged like artful mosaics.
- Columbariuma are places for the public storage of cinerary urns. The Roman columbariums were highly decorated places of peace and contemplation.
- A Mausoleum is a stately and magnificent tomb. Think Taj Mahal.
- A Crypt is a vault usually found under the floor of a shrine or church.
- Charnel Houses are repositories for those odd bones that appear when new graves are dug.
- A Grave Field is typically a prehistoric Bronze Age or Iron Age cemetery. No markers above ground to show you where.
- An Urnfield is exactly what the name implies — cremated remains buried in urns. Apparently, they belong to a specific culture in Bronze Age Europe.
- A Stupa holds ashes too.
- A Tumulus is a mound grave.
- And so are some Effigy and Burial Mounds.
- Ship Burials are fairly self explanatory too. The boat is buried along with its captain, the odd crewman, and a load of goods.
- The Chariot Burials are basically the same, with the horses of course.
As research goes, sometimes one thing leads to another. My research turned up some very unusual things. As you might imagine, the writer in me has squirreled it ALL away for later. 🙂
The Chapel of All Saints in the Czech Republic holds the bones of approximately 40,000 people.
And here’s National Geographic’s take on it.
HISTORY OF THE CATACOMBS OF PARIS I couldn’t translate this page from French to English today. Sometimes you can, other times no. It’s worth a try. Click on the flag for the language you want to read it in. http://www.carrieres.explographies.com/
Here’s a very cool virtual tour http://www.triggur.org/cata/
And on a theme, if you’re into genealogy and haven’t seen the Find-A-Grave site yet, here’s the link http://www.findagrave.com/
I’ll save Sky Burials, Tree burials, bog burials, plastination and mummification for next year’s A to Z Challenge. 🙂
There’s something to be said for that Infinity mushroom suit (If you missed that post, scroll back to letter I.)
>>>I’m over at my satellite blog http://calliopeswritingtablet.blogspot.com/ From April 10th – 19th participating in the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop. Stop by. We have prizes!
Rose Anderson ~ Love Waits in Unexpected Places
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