Located in the Kerkhoflaan general cemetery in The Hague, the Apparent Dead House looks like a sunny piece of modern architecture but its origins are anything but bright.
Originally built in 1830 by a city architect, the dead house was originally used to house the recently dead. Before medicine was more adept at identifying the truly deceased, the recently dead would be moved into the building’s central room and attendants would check them for signs of life for days after their apparent death. The professional death-watchers would place feathers and mirrors in front of the corpse’s faces to check for breath, and the bodies were attached to an elaborate system of strings and bells so that any movement would be immediately detected.
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