The Halstatt Painted Skulls Ossuary was built back in the 12th century when the village was flourishing, the population exceeded 3000 souls and there was no more room in the cemetery, so the authorities had to come up with some kind of solution. They decided to “rent” graves, if you will, bodies would be buried for only 10-15 years before being dug up, and the skulls removed, in order to make room for other corpses. The skull would then be cleaned and exposed to sun and moon light for weeks, until they became bleach-white, before being placed in their final resting place, the ossuary.
The tradition of skull painting began in 1790, when members of the deceased’s family started painting flowers and crowns of flowers because, they couldn’t decorate the grave with flowers, now could they? Some of the skulls also have the name of the deceased painted on them, the dates of birth and death and some kind of symbol depicting the cause of death.
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