Collections of human bones are nothing new in the world’s history. The Catacombs in Paris, which hold the skeletal remains of more than six million people, and the basement ossuary at St. Leonard’s Church in the UK, which contains the remains of about 4,000 people, are some of the world’s largest and most well-preserved collections of human bones. But, the discovery of archaeologists at the historic Saint-Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium still stands out: a wall made out of human bones.
|Photo Credits: All That's Interesting|
Janiek De Gryse, the excavation project’s leader, stated that this is a phenomenon that they haven’t encountered before. According to All That’s Interesting, a website for curious people who want to know more about what they saw on the news or read in history books, thigh and shin bones of adults were primarily used to build the wall. The archaeologists also found mature skulls, some shattered and placed between other bones to fill in spaces. They believe that the bones came from an old graveyard near the church, suggesting that people used the bones to create the wall to make space for new burials in the graveyard.
“When clearing a churchyard, the skeletons cannot just be thrown away. Given that the faithful believed in a resurrection of the body, the bones were considered the most important part," De Gryse explained.
|Photo Credits: Mirror.co.uk|
According to the archaeologists, the wall was built sometime during the 17th or 18th century, but the bones may have already been about 200 years old by the time that they were used to create the wall. They also revealed that there were no children’s bones included in the walls’ construction, which is not surprising since their bones would’ve been too fragile to use as building material.
|Photo Credits: Peter Gudella via Shutterstock|
The team also explained why the wall only consisted of mostly thigh and shin bones. “When clearing graves, people often hurried and did not bother collecting smaller or fragile bones such as vertebrae, ribs, bones from hands and feet. So a selection of skulls and long bones emerged,” it added.