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Explore the catacombs of Paris

By: Shea Gunther on Oct. 25, 2011, 11:10 a.m.
Overcrowded Paris catacombs

Photo: jessica mullen/Flickr

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The only option for poor Parisians before the catacombs was burial in a mass grave. Most people weren't buried in the caskets; they were simply buried in the next available space. When the mass grave was full, church officials would let the grave sit for as long as it took for the flesh to decompose before digging up the bones and placing them in mass tombs.