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Explore the catacombs of Paris

Oct. 25, 2011, 11:10 a.m.
Wall of skulls in Paris catacombs

Photo: craigbooth/Flickr

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Burying the dead

Before the catacombs were built, Parisians buried their dead on the outskirts of the city. When Christianity swept the country, so did the idea that the dead should be buried in ground consecrated by clergy. Church graveyards could only keep up with a growing population for a few centuries and it wasn't long before only rich people could afford to be buried.