"Do you ever marvel at how there is not a single part of the planet that has not been died upon?" Dr. Paul Koudounaris probably has, given his interest in regional traditions regarding death and ways of honoring (and living with) the dead, with a focus on charnel houses and ossuaries. He has a website titled Empire de la Mort, "being an online resource for charnel houses and burial catacombs," and includes a section on skeletal reliquaries and individual mummies and other miscellaneous sites. His website is a bit dated in design, if not content, and he also posts on Facebook as Empire of Death and on Instagram as hexenkult. (Paul Koudounaris, previously)
In Ancient Rome, memento mori was a Latin expression meaning "remember that you have to die," originating from a traditional means of keeping generals humble. In art, a memento mori is "an object kept as a reminder of the inevitability of death, such as a skull." In the United Kingdom, Memento Mori is a shop which specializes in objects and antiques which are macabre in nature. (Instagram) (Facebook)
A tyrannosaur of one’s own. by Laurie Gwen Shapiro [Aeon] Dinosaur collecting isn't just for museums any more — film stars and sheikhs do it too. What drives a man to covet big bones?
The world’s most famous palaeontologist doesn’t understand why anyone wants to collect dinosaurs. Mark Norell sits across from me in his expansive corner office at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and launches right in: ‘People are weird. I think: “Who is buying this shit?” No accounting for people’s taste. I have a passion for dinosaurs, but certainly not what I would call “dinosaur insanity”. Dinosaurs are just a medium for me to do science. But if I were doing the same thing on some other organism – you wouldn’t be here.’
We're the only animals with chins, and no one knows why. "I always get entertaining emails from lay people trying to help me so let me thank you in advance for what I'm about to receive."
In the late 1970s, a bicycle mechanic named Lee Post moved to Homer, Alaska to run a small bookstore with his mother. He also volunteered at the town's natural history museum, where he took on the task of assembling a beaked whale skeleton.This is the story of how a bookseller from Homer, Alaska became the an international animal skeleton re-assembly expert (Bay Nature). [more inside]
Post thought, well, I've repaired bikes — surely I can repair a whale skeleton if I have a book to follow, and conveniently, I run a bookstore. He searched for any books about reconstructing whale skeletons. “There was no such thing,” he says.
The Revenge of Flash Friday - It's ALIVE! Anatomy Arcade "makes basic human anatomy come ALIVE through awesome free flash games, interactives and videos." There are two timed games: Whack-A-Bone and Poke-A-Muscle (both feature auto-playing music, but you can turn it off in PAM). For less stress, there are jigsaw puzzles to help you get familiar with the digestive system, skeletal system, muscular system, the brain, the eye and the heart. (Via everlasting blort)
Remains in Madrid Are Believed to Be Those of Cervantes [New York Times]
Spanish investigators said they had reason to believe that bones found at the Convent of the Discalced Trinitarians were those of the “Don Quixote” author.
In the days before tape recorders and magnitizdat (previously), vinyl was a state-controlled resource in the Soviet Union. So how were dissidents and bootleggers to meet the demand for forbidden music? Write it "on the bone". [more inside]
Cao Hui is a Chinese artist who seeks the "inner reaches of things" like furniture, classical sculpture, and clothing. [more inside]
Did dogs help drive mammoths to their graves? Prehistoric dog found with mammoth bone in its mouth. Daisy, a miniature wire-haired dachshund, finds mammoth bone on the beach.
Settling in for a long winter's nap? In need of a memento mori to guard against the unbridled jollity of the season? Just want to explore the wonderful world of 3D scans, osteology, and bioarchaeology on the internet a little further? Sad that Santa probably isn't bringing you a T-Rex for Christmas? Well, just peak inside... [more inside]
Digitised Diseases is an open access resource featuring human bones which have been digitised using 3D laser scanning, CT and radiography. The resource focuses on a wide range of pathological type specimens from archaeological and historical medical collections, specifically examples of chronic diseases which affect the human skeleton for which many of the physical changes are often not directly observable within clinical practice. Of major interest to many will be high fidelity photo-realistic digital representations of 3D bones that can be viewed, downloaded and manipulated on their computer, tablet or smartphone. [more inside]
Down to a Sunless Sea - a new short story by Neil Gaiman published by The Guardian as part of their series of Water stories.
I understand your great grandfather was a grave robber?
My family is Greek and they lived in Alexandria back when it was a Greek town. At that point there was a trade in mummy dust, which they called mummia, which was thought to be a cure all. Louis XIV actually used to carry mummia in a pouch and snort little bits of it. The problem was that by the late 19th century they didn’t have a bunch of old Egyptian mummies to dig up anymore. Instead, when criminals were executed, people would steal their bodies and take them to the middle of the Sahara and cover them in tar. They’d come back a year later, dig them up and sell them to apothecaries, where they’d get ground up. This was a burgeoning trade.A Q&A with author, photographer, and ossuary expert Paul Koudounaris.
My name is Jake and I am a bone collector. This is his room, where he keeps his more than 100 skulls (a contender for the years most awesome cataloguing and archiving effort [look at that organization!]). How Jake cleans up animal bones [more inside]
The TV show Bones is loosely based on the life of forensic anthropologist and author Kathy Reichs. But how much science does the show get right? Can you really use the mandibular angle to figure out the sex of the victim? What about diagnosing Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva from a tiny bone fragment? Biological anthropologist Kristina Killgrove dissects the science of each episode on her blog, Powered by Osteons.
Just something to kick off the Halloween weekend. I totally want that chandelier....
Freeman Davis, better known as Brother Bones, was a whistler and player of the bones. As his story goes, he started in Montgomery, Alabama, hearing his mother whistle. He made his way to Long Beach, California, where he was a shoe-shining entertainer called Whistling Sam. Somewhere along the way, he gained popularity with the bones as Brother Bones, leading a group called Brother Bones and His Shadows, as heard here in Rosetta and Listen To The Mockingbird. Their 1948 instrumental version of the 1920s jazz standard Sweet Georgia Brown was chosen as the theme song for the Harlem Globetrotters. Brother Bones was also featured in the blackface minstrel show movie, Yes Sir, Mr. Bones. Freeman Davis died in 1970, and in 2002 he was paid tribute at the Rhythm Bones Society's Bones Fest 6, honoring the 100th anniversary of his birth. [more inside]
"Heads were skinned and muscles removed from the brain case in order to remove the skullcap. Incisions and scrapes on jaws indicate that tongues were cut out." "Scrape marks inside the broken ends of limb bones indicate that marrow was removed." "Whatever actually happened at Herxheim, facial bones were smashed beyond recognition." - Neolithic mass canibalism in southern Germany.
The foot bone connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone connected to the leg bone, the leg bone connected to the knee bone, the knee bone connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone connected to the hip bone, the hip bone connected to the back bone, the back bone connected to the shoulder bone, the shoulder bone connected to the neck bone, the neck bone connected to the head bone, now hear the word of the lord...and be sure to check the hover-overs for link details on all this bony business,
Skulls Unlimited: For all your osteology needs.
For 200 years, the city has been the center of a shadowy network of bone traders who snatch up skeletons in order to sell them to universities and hospitals abroad. In colonial times, British doctors hired thieves to dig up bodies from Indian cemeteries. Despite changes in laws, a similar process is going strong today. (More on the unsettling subject of the human bone trade from the author of the first link, and his Wired article too. And Photos.) Via the excellent Sepia Mutiny.
Charles Krafft is a porcelain artist who creates detailed munitions made of fine china, painted servingware commemorating modern atrocities, and "Spone" art, bone china made using human bones as the base material.
Eloysa Vasquez, a 37-pound woman with osteogenesis imperfecta (the "brittle bone disease"), has given birth to a premature, but otherwise healthy, son. OI is the disease affecting the actor Michael J. Anderson, most famous for his roles as "The Little Man from Another Place" in Twin Peaks and Samson in Carnivale. Children with OI experience so many broken bones that their parents are frequently suspected of child abuse.
Mexico: The Dark Side. A trip through cemeteries, a visit with mummies and celebrating the Day of the Dead. They visited Italy too - more mummies, plus bones and danse macabre. I was looking for something light hearted to post given all the tragedy as of late and this was what I found instead. [Some of this stuff is pretty disturbing, especially the Mexican mummies.]
Bunnock - a game of skill, accuracy... and horse bones. Register your team for the world championship!
My Broken Leg Diaries Everything you ever wanted to know about your broken leg, and lots of anecdotal anecdotes.
The Ossuary in Sedlec in the Czech Republic is a chapel, built around 1511, decorated in 1870 by a local woodcutter. His material? Human bones.
Mass grave of 24 World War I dead discovered in France. There's no way history is boring. Especially to a Belgian or French farmer.
Apparently you can teach old dogs new tricks. Injections of a naturally occuring hormone can reverse the effects of osteoporosis. Fortunately, I'm not old enough to need it, but it is comforting to know that as I age, science ain't always bad for me. This is a concise photorepresentation of the discovery.
Just your average conspiracy theory. Yale University's infamous Skull and Bones secret society. George W. Bush is a member, sworn to secrecy like the rest. (via The History Channel)
One word...Plastics. New techniques for restoring bones. Speaking of broken bones, is everyone else dreading the full media coverage of Ronald Reagan's slow liquefaction over the next several years.
Proof that you can find *anything* for sale on the web. If you ever need human bones, and your local human bone dealer is too far away, or closes early, use the internet to buy your bones!