Detail of Gravestone header in St Margarets Churchyard,Leicester.
Caitlin the mortician and I are talkin’ transi over at The Order of the Good Death. (Incidentally Talkin’ Transi is also the name of our pretend cable access show.) Transi tombs are these really great medieval funerary monuments that actually show the deceased in a state of decay. And as it turns out, Caitlin isn’t just a licensed mortician, she’s also a medieval scholar. (Don’t believe me? Pick up Morbid Anatomy’s Anthology and read her serious academic essay on demon babies.)
Caitlin posted the first photo, an early transi tomb from Avignon, as part of her #MementoMoriMonday series. It instantly reminded me of my favorite example of the genre, which you can see in the second photo. (From Wikimedia by Pline) It’s at St. Gervais et St. Protais in Gisor, France, a short train ride away from Paris.
After reading more about these two fascinating examples I found out that the guy who was buried beneath Caitlin’s tomb, Cardinal Lagrange, was quite a character. He picked a fight with the pope after he ignored a Papal Bull against dismembering corpses. Who’s corpse did he dismember, you ask? HIS OWN. He specified in his will that he wanted his bones boiled and buried in Amiens and a separate flesh burial in Avignon.
I don’t know if he succeeded with that request, but thanks to his tomb we know what he would have looked like rotting, if he rotted after all.
Death ladies talking about one of my favourite types of tomb.
The World’s Oldest Crown
The crown was discovered in a remote cave in the Judaean Desert near the Dead Sea in 1961 among hundreds of other objects from the period. Known as the ‘Nahal Mishar Hoard’, more than 400 objects were discovered by Pessah Bar-Adon and his fellow Israeli archaeologists in the cave which became known as the ‘Cave of the Treasure’. The ancient relic, which dates back to the Copper Age between 4000–3300 B.C., is shaped like a thick ring and features vultures and doors protruding from the top. It is believed the crown played a part in burial ceremonies for people of importance at the time.