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Bohol Empty Tombs

The mystery of the empty honeycomb tombs of Bohol


In the municipality of Dimiao in the province of Bohol, Philippines, lies an eerie and perplexing image – rows and rows of honeycomb-like tombs. The site would not be so strange if it were not for one unusual fact – they are all empty.

Empty tombs in Bohol. Photo source.

The old cemetery, known as the Ermita Ruins (meaning ‘chapel in a lonely place’), dates back to the early 1800s and is protected by as a National Cultural Treasure.  It is the only cemetery of its kind in the Philippines. It was commissioned by Fr. Enrique de Santo de Villanueva during the Spanish colonial period and built be a population that was willing to work for the church.

Side entrance of the ruins that looks like a chapel. Photo source.

Experts are baffled by the empty tombs, particularly considering archaeological teams have discovered a mass grave full of skeletons stacked on top of each other in the centre of the cemetery. Some historians have speculated that the area’s residents died of an epidemic before the cemetery was completed or who were hastily buried to prevent the spread of illness.

The Bohol ruins. Photo source.

Other researchers believe that the absence of bones can be explained by the closure of the cemetery in 1844. It is thought that it was shut down before being extensively after it was discovered that it was too near to a church, which was considered ‘unhealthy’.

By April Holloway<

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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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