Ossuaries & Charnels

Mikulov, Czech ossuary (Kostnice)

Mikulov, Czech ossuary (Kostnice)

Mikulov, Czech ossuary (Kostnice)

Small Czech ossuary in the town of Mikulov. Due to reasons of space, it is not discussed in the book, so I will say a few words about it here. One of the rare instances in which a preexisting charnel was appropriated as a private tomb (the only other specific instance I know of is at St. Florian, Austria). In this case, it became the tomb for a local noble family. Some curious iconographic details in the paintings near the doorway made me question whether these nobles may have secretly been Jews, but inquiries about this among local experts seemed to cause a somewhat hostile reaction, so I dropped it. The representative from the local tourist office who arranged my visit looked exactly like Tea Leone. As is notable in the photo, these are some of the most discolored bones one might ever see. In the case of the bones at Mikulov, those in the lower level show damage from either groundwater seepage or flooding, or perhaps both, but water cannot account for this level of darkness. The real culprit in the discoloration is most likely staining from the wood of the coffins in which they were once deposited.
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