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“Naturum De Montum”, roughly translated: Book of the Dead, otherwise known as the Necronomicon. Most famous from the Evil Dead series, the Necronomicon is a book bound in human flesh and inked in blood, filled with all kinds of incantations to resurrect demons, possession and various other nasty tricks the devil would play. It’s also a work of fiction and was first mentioned in HP Lovecraft’s 1922 story The Hound. However, the thought of the book, both its making and content, can be rather chilling. Well, in a disturbing real life twist, Harvard scientists have done a series of test and are now 99.9% sure that the material covering Arsène Houssaye’s Des destinées de l’ame (roughly translated The Destiny of the Soul) is human skin in their very own Houghton Library. Morbidly fitting for a book about the soul.

Bill Lane, the director of the Harvard Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Resource Laboratory, said, “The analytical data, taken together with the provenance of Des destinées de l’ame, make it very unlikely that the source could be other than human.”

But who or how many? A note inside the book from a Dr. Ludovic Bouland explains it’s from the back of a female mental patient who died of a stroke. In his note, he says, “A book about the human soul deserved to have a human covering: I had kept this piece of human skin taken from the back of a woman.”

Although Anthropodermic bibliopegy (the practice of binding books with human skin) has been around since the 16th century, a book with a cover made from the flesh of a mentally ill woman certainly sounds like the makings from a horror movie. Two other volumes were believed to be bound from human skin as well, but were later to be confirmed as sheep skin.

I recommend putting down the Goosebumps or Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and read this article at The Independent for a chilling tale.

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