Graveside Chronicles: 45 Untold Stories of Resting Places 2

26Casimir IV's Tomb

Casimir IV's Tomb

After opening the tomb of Casimir IV of Lithuania and Poland in 1973, four of the 12 people present died within a few days, and six more soon afterwards. During later examinations, a microbiologist found traces of fungi on the royal insignia taken from the tomb. He identified three species: Aspergillus flavus, Penicillium rubrum, and Penicillium rugulosum. These fungi are known to produce aflatoxins that can be deadly when in contact with the skin and inhaled into the lungs.

27. The crypt of the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini church, a.k.a. the Capuchin Crypt in Rome, is beautifully and intricately decorated with the skeletal remains of 4,000 humans. A placard addressed to those who enter the crypt reads, "What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be."

28. Under Paris, there are limestone mines that have become an ossuary and the final resting place for over six million people. During a cholera outbreak in the 1800s, over 170,000 people were hastily dumped in the catacombs and covered with quick lime to remove the flesh.

29. Catacomb saints are skeletons that were exhumed from Roman catacombs and decorated with gold and other jewels to serve as "replacement relics" for those destroyed during the Protestant Reformation. It is unlikely that any of those skeletons are the people they are said to be by tradition.

30. Holger the Dane is a fabled Frankish knight, and there is a statue of him in the catacombs of Kronborg in Denmark. He will, according to folklore, come to life if Denmark is ever threatened by a foreign invasion. He was first mentioned in the 12th century, and his statue was built in 1907.

31Little Merrit's Tomb

Little Merrit's Tomb

Little Merrit was an 8-year-old boy who died in 1865 in upstate New York. A few days before he died, he told his dad he was afraid to be buried in a dark tomb. His parents honoured his wish and put a window in his tomb. Many years ago, vandals destroyed his tomb and broke the glass, and a local teen displayed the boy's skull in his bedroom. Eventually, he was discovered by the authorities, the skull was recovered, and it and the boy's bones were re-interred in the tomb.

32. Joe DiMaggio was so devastated after Marilyn Monroe's death that he had a half-dozen red roses delivered three times a week to her crypt for 20 years, never married again, and his last words were: "I'll finally get to see Marilyn."

33. Kim Il-Sung, the first dictator of North Korea, was embalmed. His perfectly mummified body lies in a glass sarcophagus inside a $100 million mausoleum. Even though he died in 1994, Kim Il-sung remains president of North Korea. The constitution was revised in 1998, declaring him "Eternal President of the Republic," making North Korea the only necrocracy in the world—a government that still operates under the rules of a dead former leader.

34. There is a national park located inside a large traffic circle in the shape of an ellipse in Quezon City, Philippines. Its main feature is a 66-meter-tall mausoleum that houses the remains of President Quezon and First Lady Corazon Aquino.

35. The mausoleum of the Pantheon of Paris holds the remains of Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, and Alexandre Dumas.

36Wadi Al-Saman

Wadi Al-Saman

The largest cemetery in the world is Wadi Al-Saman (Valley of Peace) in Najaf, Iraq. It covers 1485 acres and contains over 5 million bodies. Most of the dead are buried in catacombs, and each crypt holds up to 50 bodies. Daily burials have been going on for over 1,400 years. As of 2014, coinciding with the conflict against ISIL, it has been reported that burial plots are running out, resulting in many being stolen, illegally resold, or improvised.

37. Archaeologists have found almost 8 million animal mummies, mostly dogs, in the dog catacombs of Saqqara, Egypt. Worshippers paid to have animals killed and mummified in order to transport their prayers to the gods. Other animals (baboons, bulls, etc.) were also mummified in the Sacred Animal Necropolis.

38. Victorian London was frantically looking for a solution for what to do with all its dead, and an architect named Thomas Wilson proposed the Metropolitan Sepulchre, a 94-storey "Death Pyramid." It would have been the tallest building in London and could have held up to 5 million bodies. The project even got financial support but ultimately never materialized.

39. An ossuary below St. Michael's Church in Hallstatt, Austria, holds over 1000 skulls, 610 of them delicately hand-painted. Due to limited space, after 15 years of burial in the churchyard, the burial sites were reopened, cleaned out, and given to new residents. The skulls and bones from the original buried bodies were moved to the lowest level of St. Michael’s Chapel, where they could be stored more efficiently. Due to this ritual, people began decorating their ancestors' skulls to make them less anonymous.

40. The tomb complex of the Biblical King Herod was found nearly 200 years ago, but his actual resting place remained elusive (despite zealous investigation) until this past decade—due to the complex's size. The lowest portion of the complex covers approximately 40 acres.

41Tomb of the Whipping

Tomb of the Whipping

The oldest depictions of sadomasochism are two fresco paintings found in the Etruscan "Tomb of the Whipping" in central Italy. The frescoes, which depict a woman pleasuring two men while being whipped with a cane, date back to the 5th century B.C.

42. The ancient walls of a 2000-year-old Roman-era tomb in Jordan are lined with 260 figures painted in narrative scenes with comic-style speech bubbles. The 60 or so texts painted in black appear to be Aramaic using Greek letters. These paintings are considered one of the oldest comic strips in history.

43. In 1901, while reconstructing Lincoln's tomb, they opened his coffin to confirm he was still there. All in all, Lincoln's coffin has been opened five times and moved 17 times due to tomb construction, a plot to steal him, attempts to hide him, and a reconstruction. His coffin also spent 11 years in the basement of his tomb, two of which were spent hidden beneath a wood pile.

44. The tomb of Louis XIV of France was ransacked during the French Revolution. By 1848, part of his mummified heart had fallen into the possession of the Archbishop of York. He showed it to the Dean of Westminster, who proceeded to eat it.

45. The oldest drinking straw in existence was found in a Sumerian tomb, which has been dated to 3,000 B.C. It was a gold tube inlaid with precious stones.