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Lost in the Afterlife: Famous Missing Graves


Hieronymus Bosch

Bosch was surreal before surrealism was an acknowledged commercial art form. He had no equal during his artistic reign in the late 1400's and it would be another five hundred years before the works of Dali began blowing everyone's minds with styles inherited from Bosch. Born Jeroen van Aken in s'Hertogenbosch. His father, Antonius van Aken, two uncles, and two brothers were painters working in the Aken family shop, which Jeroen headed after his father's death in 1482.

In 1478 Bosch married Aleit van de Mervenne, whose extensive property in s'Hertogenbosch secured his financial independence throughout his working life. By 1500 he was one of the wealthiest men in s'Hertogenbosch, allowing him - for his time - an unusual degree of freedom in selecting his subjects. But the ride on high was short lived and ten years later Bosch went bankrupt. Failed business attempts and political infighting left him financially ruined. He died penniless at 66 years old. The Brotherhood of Our Lady church buried him in an unmarked pauper's Grave on August 9, 1516. 

He dated none of his paintings and only signed a few selected pieces with jheronymus bosch, in large, formal, Gothic letters. His artist's surname Bosch signifies his place of origin which is commonly known as Den Bosch. Less than 27 of his works are known to exist.

Despite being one of the most influential artists of all time Bosch's bones have never been recovered. 


Mozart joins Bosch as another influential artist that died as a pauper in an unmarked grave. Later attempts to locate his body failed, including a search by his widow, 17 years after Mozart's death, and by Vincent Novello in 1829. In 1855 a gravestone was erected at what was presumed to be the correct spot. Later the stone was transferred to a group of famous musician graves at Zentralfriedhof. At St. Marx Cemetery, a worker replaced the gravestone with a memorial tablet, which was again expanded by several contributors. The memorial known today was refurbished by Viennese sculptor Florian Josephu-Drouot in 1950. 

Legends have surrounded Mozart’s final resting place 
since he died in 1791 at age 35 and was buried in a pauper's grave at Vienna's St. Mark's Cemetery. The location of the grave was initially unknown, but its likely location was determined in 1855. Legend has it that Joseph Rothmayer, a gravedigger who knew which body was Mozart's, sneaked the Skull out of the grave in 1801. Today, the spot is adorned by a column and a sad-looking angel.

The skull long has fascinated experts: In 1991, a French anthropologist who examined it made the startling — though unconfirmed — conclusion that Mozart may have died of complications of a head injury rather than rheumatic fever as most historians believe. Pierre-Francois Puech of the University of Provence based his belief on a fracture on the left temple. Mozart, he theorized, may have sustained it in a fall, and that would help explain the severe headaches the composer was said to have suffered more than a year before his death.

After months of sophisticated DNA sleuthing reminiscent of a "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" episode, forensics experts admitted Sunday on national television that they still can't say with certainty whether an ancient skull belonged to the composer, as some believe.

Past tests on the skull also were inconclusive, and a joint analysis conducted by the Institute for Forensic Medicine in Innsbruck and the U.S. Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory in Rockville, Md., raised more questions than answers, lead researcher Dr. Walther Parson conceded.

"For the time being, the mystery of the skull is even bigger," Parson's team concluded in "Mozart: The Search for Evidence," a much-hyped documentary aired Sunday evening on Austrian state broadcaster ORF in the run-up to the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth.
Since 1902, the skull — which is missing its lower jaw — has been in the possession of the International Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg, the elegant Austrian city where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on Jan. 27, 1756.

Parson, an internationally renowned forensic pathologist, said genetic material from two teeth removed from the skull was analyzed and compared with DNA samples gathered in 2004 from the thigh bones of two skeletons exhumed from the Mozart family grave at Salzburg's St. Sebastian Cemetery. Experts had assumed the remains were of Mozart's maternal grandmother and a niece. But DNA analysis showed that none of the skeletons in the grave were related, making it impossible to prove that the skull was Mozart's.

Sir Francis Drake

Drake was on the most famous pirates of all times. A warmongering henchman of the crown, Drake is credited with defeating the Spanish Armada's invasion of England in 1588. After a career as naval officer, Drake drifted into piracy and was also one of the earliest exponents of the slave trade, bringing African men and women to "work" in the English colonies of North America in the 16th Century. To reach the Pacific, Drake became the first Englishman to navigate the Straits of Magellan. He travelled up the west coast of South America, plundering Spanish ports. He continued north, hoping to find a route across to the Atlantic, and sailed further up the west coast of America than any European. Unable to find a passage, he turned south and then in July 1579, west across the Pacific. His travels took him to the Moluccas, Celebes, Java and then round the Cape of Good Hope. He arrived back in England in September 1580, with a rich cargo of spices and looted Spanish treasure and the distinction of being the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. 
Seven months later, Elizabeth knighted him aboard the Golden Hind, to the annoyance of the king of Spain. In 1585, Drake sailed to the West Indies and the coast of Florida where he ransacked and plundered Spanish cities. On his return voyage, he picked up the unsuccessful colonists of Roanoke Island off the coast of the Carolinas, which was the first English colony in the New World. In 1587, war with Spain was imminent and Drake entered the port of Cadiz and destroyed 30 of the ships the Spanish which they were assembling against the British. In 1588, he was made a vice-admiral in the fleet that defeated the Armada. Drake's last expedition was to the West Indies. 

The Spanish were prepared for him this time, and the venture was a disaster. Drake died on 28th January 1596, of dysentery off the coast of Portobelo, Panama. Millionaire pirate enthusiast Pat Croce claims he has located two of Drake’s ships which were sunk shortly after Drake died of dysentery. "This is absolutely a dream come true - to find the ships of the most successful pirate in history, who single-handedly wreaked havoc on Spain's New Empire," said Mr Croce, who is blogging on the expedition live from Panama. They are now hoping to find Drake's lead-lined coffin, which may still contain his body, which was reportedly buried in a full suit of armour. Mr Croce said the remains of the ships, the Elizabeth and the Delight, had been discovered at the bottom of Portobelo Bay. Mr Croce, who runs the St Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum in Florida, said they had found the burnt timbers of Elizabeth and Delight, which sank shortly after Drake's death. 

The notorious pirate was buried at sea with his body clad in a full suit of armor and placed to rest eternally in a lead coffin that was thrown overboard. Drake's coffin has never been found. 

Interested in searching for it? $270 dollars gets you a full day of diving in Portobelo Bay on a professional tour specializing in searching for Drake's coffin. They haven't found it either. 

King Antiochus I

This post first appeared on Xaviant Haze, please read the originial post: here

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Lost in the Afterlife: Famous Missing Graves


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