It is sometimes said that death is the last taboo, but it was not always so. For centuries, religious establishments constructed decorated ossuaries + charnel houses that stand as masterpieces of art created from human bone. These unique structures have been pushed into the footnotes of history; they were part of a dialogue with death that is now silent. The sites in this specially photographed + brilliantly original study range from the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Palermo, where the living would visit mummified or skeletal remains + lovingly dress them; to the Paris catacombs; to fantastic bone-encrusted creations in Austria, Cambodia, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Italy, Peru, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, + elsewhere. Paul Koudounaris photographed more than seventy sites for this book. He analyzes the role of these remarkable memorials within the cultures that created them, as well as the mythology + folklore that developed around them, + skillfully traces a remarkable human endeavor. Hardcover. 224 pages. 290 photographs, 260 in color. 12 x 9 inches.