How did six feet become the standard depth for graves?

Okay, I know it’s a bit morbid, but somehow this trivial question has been bothering me lately. How did six feet become the standard depth for graves?

And on second thought, is it even true that six feet is the standard depth?

A staff report on exactly this subject:
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2271/why-is-six-feet-under-the-standard-depth-for-burial

:smack: Should have done a search. Thanks for the link.

Six feet is the common length of most shovels. When the hole is as deep as the shovel is tall, you can stop digging.

Where the heck do you buy your shovels?

A normal shovel comes up to my waist, guess that makes me 12 feet tall.

Any less than 6 feet and the smell factor becomes an issue.

Also animals can dig up shallow graves.

Some places can’t bury the dead below ground because of shallow ground water.
A lot of burials in coastal Louisiana are above ground for that reason.

When I saw the title, I immediately thought of the pragmatic fact of digging a hole.
I have buried the family dog a few times. I like to go deep. The last dog was a big one so I surely went to maximum depth. When you dig a hole it gets hard to pitch the dirt out after a certain depth. At some point you can’t even see over the top and climbing out can be problematic too. The thought entered my mind about getting buried in the hole myself. So 5-6’ is where I give up digging. Maybe others historically gave up at that point as well.

You also need to get well below the frost level, or frost heaving will bring the remains to the surface like rocks in a new england farm.

It’s the same situation in Florida (or at least in the parts I visited as a kid). No burials, just above ground crypts (both individual and large family ones).

And I thought that six feet was the minimum depth that a zombie can’t dig its way up from… :slight_smile: