I started to read ‘The Empire of Death’ by Paul Koudounaris which explores the cultural history of ossaries and charnel houses. I discovered that charnel houses were often displayed with a crucifix because of the belief that Christ was crucified at Golgotha, on the same site where Adam had died.
I did a bit of further research into Golgotha:
- A literal translation from the bible Golgotha means ‘Place of the skull’.
- Refered in early writings as a hill resembling a skullcap.
- The location was possibly the site of all public executions and therefore refers to there being alot of abandoned skulls.
Traditionally Ossaries and Charnel houses were places were remains were left after a short period of burial to make the most of land that was in short supply. People began to display the remains for visitors to the sites as a momento mori and a place of contemplation.