2010_07_17 Paris Catacombs
The rock used to build Notre Dame Cathedreal in the 10th, 11th and 12th Centuries was not quaried from open pits, but from mines under the hills of Paris itself. These mines are still there, as tunnels and halls that run more tan a hundred miles in length. The sum of material removed and used to build churches, bridges and houses, exceeds that required to build the Great Pyramid in Egypt.

From the late 1700s to the mid 1800s, Paris solved a sanitation problem and found room to grow by moving the bodies of its dead from the cemeteries above to the quarries below. Rather than just throw the bones in pits, however, the priests who did most of the work built walls with femurs stacked knee-knuckle out, and skulls arranged in rows atop or in the midst -- and then by throwing all the other bones in the spaces behind. The number of dead in the Catacombs of Paris numbers in the millions, and includes the remains of many, if not most, of the people who dug the mines and carried out the rock. It's an amazing place to visit, and not nearly as haunting and creepy as you'd expect. But it does bring some new perspectives to both life and death.
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