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Ossuary

An ossuary is a chest, building, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains.

In first century Judaism, when space for burials was scarce, the use of ossuaries became common because of limited space for tombs; once a body had become skeletonised, the bones were collected and placed in an ossuary. The ossuary of the high priest Caiaphas[?] has been discovered from these times. In 2002, an ossuary allegedly belonging to St. James the brother of Jesus was brought to public attention; its authenticity is uncertain.

In Europe, limited cemetery space or other unusual needs in some areas again led to the reuse of burial plots and the recovery of human remains to be stored in ossuaries. One celebrated such site is the Sedlec ossuary in the Czech Republic.



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