Join Morbid Anatomy, Atlas Obscura and Dr. Paul Koudounaris, author of The Empire of Death for a discussion on his five years of travel to document the largely overlooked history of religious shrines decorated with human bones and remains in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Crest of Bones

Date: Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Time: 8pm

Admission: $5

Location: Observatory, 543 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215

His newly published book, The Empire of Death (Thames and Hudson) presents a collection of Koudounaris’ photographs and texts chronicling these incredible sites, many of which are not open to the public and have never before been photographed.

The research for this unique book took the author to over 70 preserved charnel houses and skeletal shrines on four continents to document the once common use of human remains for the veneration of the dead in Christian culture. Among other tribulations, in the course of completing his research, the author was pursued by malevolent spirits, handcuffed to a table in a striptease bar by a prurient monk, forced to undergo a religious pilgrimage and exorcism, and arrested by the Austrian police.

Tonight, join Dr. Koudounarishis for an illustrated talk in which he will provide historical insights into the sites and people who created these marvelous objects and spaces, a discussion of the veneration of the dead in Christian culture, and fantastical travel anecdotes, all illustrated by his breathtaking photographs of these unforgettable artifacts.