Disposal of the Dead

There are good public health reasons for taking care over the disposal of human corpses. The manner of disposal is often dominated by spiritual concerns or a desire to show respect for the dead or both, and may be carried out through a traditional ritual.  Sky burial, and a similar method of disposal called Towers of Silence practised by Tibetan Buddhists and Zoroastrians, is an ancient practice.  The corpse is placed on a mountain, or in some traditions on stone structures called Dakhma, to decompose while exposed to the elements and to be eaten by scavenging animals, especially carrion birds.   Apparently few such places remain today due to religious marginalisation, urbanisation and declining vulture populations.

Photo: Black-headed Gull, Snettisham, October 2017

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2 Responses to Disposal of the Dead

  1. Sue B-H says:

    One has to wonder how short a time it was before these remains disappeared. Rarely in this climate does the human nose pick up the smell of decaying flesh – thankfully!

    • brianhuman says:

      I imagine it all happened relatively quickly where there were plenty of vultures and other scavengers, which seem to make short work of dead animals on the African plains. I suppose it sounds quite green, but it is all rather gruesome and I really don’t fancy the carrion smell wafting around. There’s a lot to be said for clinical cremation.
      I’ve never noticed any smell from any on the dead animals I’ve photographed. Maybe I’m just not getting close enough.

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