Throughout the world, elaborately decorated skeletons are put on display to create special sanctuaries. In these charnel houses, offerings are presented to the adorned remains in hopes that the dead assist the living. Though strange to us, these traditions are still alive and well. Paul Koudounaris explains the various cultural beliefs and practices that give rise to the supernatural powers of venerated remains in this interview with George Noory originally webcast February 17, 2014.
Relic hunter and ossuary expert, Paul Koudounaris has a doctorate in Art History from the University of California, Los Angeles. He has written widely on European ossuaries and charnel houses for both academic and popular journals. As the author of the books Heavenly Bodies and Empire of Death, he has photographed over seventy sites containing human bones in nearly twenty countries.