Why bury the dead

I can think of only two reasons for it. To make a statement of the destructiveness of war (various war memorial cemetaries), and to give archaologists and anthropologists something to dig up 100 to 1000 years later to see how we lived.

Other than that, why bother. The notion of your physical body needing to be preserved has long past.

It takes up useful space. Its very expensive. Your organic remains, which can be placed back into the cycle of life gets locked up in a coffin. After a few years your relatives will also die and you will be forgotten.

There are better things to do with a dead corpse than bury it. Donate it to science or burn it into ash, I say.

I’m not one for sentiment so I don’t really understand cemeteries either. It’s been said that tombstones have less to do with separating the dead from the living than separating the dead from each other.

That said, we buried my grandfather’s ashes on top of a hill (beautiful view) behind his country house. No stone. OK, I guess I’m maybe a little sentimantal.

I totally understand burying the dead. What I DON’T understand is ebalming and coffins. I want to be buried in a cotton sack or something, in the woods.

“Cluemobile? You’ve got a pickup…”
OpalCat’s site: http://opalcat.com
The Teeming Millions Homepage: fathom.org/teemingmillions

Opal…“ebalming”?? Is that anointing with balm over the Internet? :wink:

ebalming… good eye, Polycarp!

Since I’m not going to die, this doesn’t really apply to me, but theoretically speaking:

I’d rather be cremated and sprinkled than buried. ONLY if I died under questionable circumstances would I want to be embalmed and buried, in case the need would arise for my body to be exhumed for further forensic testing.

But like I said, I’m not going to die, so it doesn’t really matter, does it?

Veni, Vidi, Visa … I came, I saw, I bought.

I’d guess that the tradition of burying your dead started waaaaay back in prehistory. A buried corpse doesn’t stink up the place as much as a corpse left out in the open does. :wink:

Burial was first used for sanitary reasons. It does no one any good to have the corpses rotting on the midden at the end of town. Also, according to Judaic law, the dead have to be buried, other forms of disposal are unacceptable to the more conservative elements of the Jewish community.
That said, however, I am at a loss to understand the present funerary practices myself. Not only are they rather grusome (in my opinion) they are horrendously expensive. A box and a hole average about $5,000 minimum. That’s outrageous not to metion appalling. Depending on the state you live in, you might be able to avoid the whole nastiness of the replacement of blood for preservative. Preservatives, for Pete’s sake, when the goal is supposed to be reducing the body to loam. Incomprehensible.
I do like the stones in the really old, cemetaries, however, they can be a history lesson in and of themselves.
Like Chris, however, this only affects me peripherally, since I have no intention of dying either. I’ve never been much of a trend follower.

Okay…I’d just like to state if anyone cared, that I hope to either not have my body found for too long a time, or be eaten by animals after I go poof.

IIRC, I think you can pay or something these…monk guys that live up in those mountains in Tibet to…take your body to some outside thing and blow a whistle or something and some buzzardfolk come and feast. Isn’t that more fun than getting your burnt self stuffed in a bullet and shot at some poor deer?

Contribute to the animals, not take away.

Snappy, The Crazy Toddite - Friend of Skippy

It beats eating them…

Yer pal,

Yes, it’s so . . . untidy otherwise.

your humble TubaDiva
“Bring out your dead!”

“Death’s at the bottom of everything, Martins. Leave death to the professionals.” – The Third Man

Isn’t the answer older than sanitation or imortality? We all dream, even if we don’t remember the dreams, it’s part of sleep and outside our ordinary control. If dear old Uncle just died and we dream of him hungry, lost, without clothing or shelter maybe we’d be moved to give him those things. And if we did maybe we wouldn’t dream those things. Remember how real dreams were to us as children and maybe that’s how our great grand great grand greats felt. Not only would you put food, clothing, weapons and tools in the grave but you might also put rocks on top to keep dear old Unk in the ground and out of your dreams.

The Zoaroastrians, I believe (an ancient religion with origins in Iran and Mesopatamia, but with a sizeable worldwide membership today) do no bury thier dead. The believe that fire, earth, and water are sacred elements, and therefore could never pollute them with a rotting corpse. So, they have built elaborate open air mausoleaums where the deceased are laid out to be consumed by vultures.

“Its fiction, but all the facts are true!”

I think there’s also some tribe that uses large platforms on high poles for the same reasons. Possibly the same.


“You know how complex women are”

  • Neil Peart, Rush (1993)

{I’d guess that the tradition of burying your dead started waaaaay back in prehistory. A buried corpse doesn’t stink up the place as much as a corpse left out in the open does.} (TRACER)

I agree heartily. A rotting corpse not only is offensive both by smell and sight, but attracts all forms of animals. In the past, with rather massive and very nasty tempered predators lurking about, leaving a corpse nearby would have been paramount to yelling ‘lunch’! and then laying on the ground to get eaten.

I assume that as humans developed something along the lines of a reasoning brain, that someone found it to be better to bury the bodies or burn them. Burial was probably easier and in a shallow hole because matches and cigarette lighters would have been hard to get for a few hundred million years or so. Lighting fires by rubbing sticks together would have been difficult.

Somewhere along the lines, someone decided to include it in some religions to enforce the practice. This presumably came about once humans clumped together in large enough populations to annoy each other and cheerfully spread disease among the masses. (Almost all races who practiced above ground burial had vast areas of empty lands available to them which diminished the chances of disease and stench – as well as viewing the unpleasant sight of the body corrupting.)

Some current religions seem to dictate below ground burial in various forms. Some state this is for the eventual ‘rising up’ of the dead. That brings to mind the question of such followers whose bodies were lost at sea, eaten by animals, sharks, blown apart in wars or vaporized in explosions. (The atomic bomb at close range is pretty thorough.) Some religious sects seem not as strict. Cremation is cleaner, less expensive and uses up much less land. (Somehow it seems ‘unsettling’ to be buried in an expensive, ‘eternal’ coffin, only to have it ripped up and moved 100 or so years from now when a building buys out the old cemetery or a highway needs to go through it.)

Many, if not all, burial companies will push below ground burial because they make a bundle off of it. Embalming was initially developed for two basic reasons, the first being to MAKE SURE THAT THE PERSON WAS DEAD PRIOR TO BURIAL. They kind of had a problem in determining this in the old days and lack of preservation gave them a limited amount of time to allow the body to remain untouched. The second reason was – as people spread out more – to give a greater viewing time for relatives to arrive. (Other reasons were tacked on later.)

Later, for various reasons, among them the desire by companies to make major bucks off of grief, and for sanitary reasons (grave yards built on hills tended to drain rainwater underground into drinking wells – taking minute bits of bodily remains with it) came the massively built, sealed, nearly impervious coffins and liners.

I do omit the very human tendency to wish that the bodily remains stay as uncorrupted as possible.

“Think of it as Evolution in action.”

I thought we had buried this thing!

Apparently it wasn’t dead, Manhattan! :slight_smile:

Why bury the dead?

Because burying the living is generally considered to be bad form.

God is dead. -Nietzsche
Nietzsche is dead. -God
Neitzsche is God. -Dead