Over the centuries, people have adopted several practices when it comes to burying their loved ones after they die. Their beliefs, convictions, will, emotions and several others play part in the method and form they adopt to honor the deceased.
Some types of burial methods are simple and serene, while others are over the top and celebratory. Whatever the case, human burial has a long and unique history throughout its existence.
Most people are familiar with the white linen strapped bodies called mummies. This fashion for the dead is part of an ancient Egyptian method of burial which was a complicated method of preserving the body after death; so complicated that it took up to 70 days to complete.
This process turns the body into white-colored dust after it has been loaded into a Resomator. This machine enables the transformation of the remains by using water and lye and heating the mixture to about 320°F and applying high pressure. This process has been favored by environment-friendly groups because it uses less energy and releases less carbon dioxide.
The process involves freeze-drying the body (making it bridle), shattering the body into dust, vacuum drying the dust, and releasing the dust into topsoil, thus creating compost within 12 months. This innovative method has been recognized by the King of Sweden with an award and has caught the interest of more than 60 countries worldwide.
Neanderthal Cave Burials
Within the Shanidar Cave in Iraq, ten adult neanderthal skeletons were discovered. Two of the first four showed evidence of burial rituals. The 2nd had a pile of stones on top of his grave and the remains of a large fire near the burial site. The 4th was found lying on his left side in a partial fetal position and had pollen grains around where he was buried.
Human DNA Trees
How would you like to have an apple tree which has been genetically modified to carry strands of your DNA? The company Biopresence was set up to create Living Memorials or Transgenic Tombstones the method that they have created to store the DNA of a human person inside a tree or a plant, without influence genes host organism.
There are many creative ways to spread someone into ashes, but this method takes the cake. Not only does it spread the ashes far and wide, it does it with an impressive display. A firework funeral places the ashes of the deceased inside the firework tube which is then launched high into the sky, exploding in a brilliant display of lights and colors while releasing the ashes of the deceased to be carried by high winds. Moreover, there are some variations and customization like Duration, Choice of Colours, Choice of Fireworks, and Musical Choreography.
Many families store their loved one’s ashes in many different ways like mixing the ashes with paint and turning it into art? Indeed, some have resorted to this method to honor their loved ones like a few of these:
- Take them on a trip around the world in a container or in a locket
- Turn them into jewelry
- Scatter them at sea by mixing different colors
- Get a tattoo
- Shoot them into space
- Release them with doves
- Scattering ashes during a tandem skydive
- Compressed into a vinyl record
- Store them in a cuddly toy
- Lay them to rest at their favorite place of visit
- Add them to a sculpture
An Eternal Reef combines a cremation urn, ash scattering, and burial at sea into one meaningful, permanent environmental tribute to life. An Eternal Reef is a designed reef made of environmentally-safe cast concrete placed on the ocean floor as a permanent memorial of a life.
This process is the low-temperature preservation of humans and animals. If you have watched some sci-fi movies or superhero flicks, then you may be familiar with this method already. Most people undergo cryopreservation in hopes that future technology will be able to bring them back to life and back to health. However, this hope comes at a price of anywhere between $80,000 to $250,000 dollars.
Bog bodies have been naturally mummified within a peat bog. The mummification is accomplished due to the conditions of the surrounding area such as highly acidic water, low temperature, and a lack of oxygen. These conditions combine to preserve (and severely tan) the bodies, however, bones are normally not preserved due to the acid in the peat which dissolves the calcium phosphate of the bones.
The deceased is treated as if sleeping, thus family members avoid crying since they believe the deceased will reincarnate or find his final resting place in the Moksha (Moksha is the end of the death and rebirth cycle and is classed as the fourth and ultimate artha to the goal). The body is then transferred to a coffin on the day of the ceremony and placed in a sarcophagus (A sarcophagus is a box-like funeral receptacle for a corpse) resembling a bull where it is burnt.
Found in different locations like China, Indonesia, and the Philippines, these hanging coffins are attached to the sides of cliffs as part of an ancient funeral custom of minority groups. They come in three types: Some are cantilevered out on wooden stakes, others are placed in caves, while the third kind sits on projections in the rock.
Space burial is carried out by launching a small capsule into space, containing a sample of the ashes of the deceased. Several notable scientists, astronomers, and even the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, have been buried in space. The farthest burial was outside the solar system with the remains of Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto.
Burial scaffolds are normally trees or at times other structures that are used to support corpses or coffins. These were common among the Balinese, certain Australian Aborigines, the Naga people, and some North American Indian groups. Particularly the Tibetans believe tree burial allows the dead child spirit to be reborn to heaven and prevents another child’s death or misfortune in the family.
Similar to cremation art, memorial diamonds are created from the hair or cremated remains of the deceased. If using hair, the samples are subjected to a process where carbon is extracted. When the cremated remains are used, carbon is obtained in a gaseous form. Carbon from both sources is turned into diamonds through conventional diamond synthesis techniques.
Tibetan Sky Burial
Sky burial is a practice in Tibet where the deceased are incised in a certain location and then left exposed to the elements. Since the majority of Tibetans adhere to Buddhist beliefs, they see the body as an empty vessel that will eventually be reborn.
Aboriginal Body Exposure
Corpses are placed on wooden scaffolds so that they will be exposed to the natural elements and gradually rot and disintegrate. This ritual has two main stages: First, they leave the corpse on a raised platform and cover it with leaves and branches until the flesh has rotted away. The second stage occurs after all the flesh has rotten and only bones are left. The bones are painted red okra and left to disintegrate.
Plastination is a technique used in anatomy to preserve bodies or body parts. It was first developed by Gunther von Hagens in 1977. To achieve this preservation, the water and fat are replaced by certain plastics, yielding specimens that can be touched; do not smell or decay, and even retain most properties of the original sample.
Ifugao Death Chair (Front Porch Burial)
This is a form of mourning the deceased by the Ifugao people which is dependent on the rank of the deceased in the community and the nature of death. The corpse is placed in the sitting position in a specified chair for anywhere between 13 to 15 days for those of a higher rank and 2 to 3 for commoners. After the wake, the remains are then transferred to the gravesite near the mountainside and are placed in an upright sitting position inside and covered with stones and rocks.
Towers of Silence
In Zoroastrian tradition, corpses are placed on a circular raised structure. The roof of the structure is divided into three rings where the men are arranged on the outer ring, the women in the second circle, and children in the innermost. When the corpses have turned into sun-bleached bones after a year, they are collected and placed in an ossuary pit where they are mixed with lime and gradually disintegrated.
Endocannibalism is the practice of eating the flesh of a human being from the same community. As shocking as it may sound, this practice was once common around the world. A fact that was substantiated by the Studies of lead investigator Michael Alpers, who discovered that genes that protect against prion diseases were widespread around the world, indicating that such endocannibalism was once indeed common.
Suttee (Self Immolation)
Suttee is a social funeral practice where the wife of the deceased would immolate herself at her husband’s funeral, derived from the original name of the goddess Sati or Dakshayani who also did the same. There are measures to stop gender-biased and unfair practices even if some view it as reasonable and a glorification towards the dead women. However, it’s still sadly practiced on some rare occasions in India, both voluntarily and involuntarily.
The Sokushinbutsu were Buddhist monks or priests who went through a stringent and lengthy process of causing their own deaths, resulting in mummifying themselves. Taking place in some parts of Japan, only 24 incidents have been discovered to date. This belief establishes that if the process was successful, then the monk was immediately seen as a Buddha and placed in the temple for viewing. The practice is no longer advocated by any of the Buddhist sects and has been banned in Japan.