Burials at Sea
Nature Aided Disposition
|Disposition of the Body
Mummy- The body of a dead person or animal that has been preserved
indefinitely, especially by embalming methods. The term is also used for a body
that has been naturally preserved by dry heat, dry cold, or mineral drying agents.
Some mummies are preserved by a combination of embalming methods and
natural means. Mummification by embalming is usually done in the belief that the
body is occupied by the soul after death. Natural mummification may be deliberate
The art of mummification reached its highest level in ancient Egypt, where the
process was aided by the dry, warm climate. Bitumen, a type of asphalt, was once
mistakenly thought to be the preservative used by Egyptian embalmers; the word
mummy probably comes from an Arabic word meaning “bitumen.” Mummification
was also practiced by the ancient Ethiopians, the ancient Guanches of the Canary
Islands, and until recently, by some primitive peoples of Africa, the islands of the
South Pacific, and the Aleutian Islands. Naturally preserved mummies have been
found in Egypt, North America, Central America, and South America. Many
Peruvian mummies may have been artificially dried before burial.
The art of mummification was
originated by the Egyptians, perhaps
as early as 4000 B.C. It reached its
peak between the 16th and 10th
centuries B.C. The most elaborate,
expensive forms of mummification
were limited to influential persons
and animals considered to be sacred.
Royal mummies that have remained
preserved over the centuries include
those of Thutmose III, Amenhotep II,
Tutankhamen, Seti I, and Ramses II.
An intact coffin and mummy is available for viewing at Field Museum of Natural
History of Harwa, overseer of storehouses on a great Egyptian estate, date from
the 8th or 9th century B.C., in the 22nd Dynasty.
|Since they first walked the planet, humans have either buried or burned their dead.
Now a new option is generating interest, dissolving bodies in lye and flushing the
residue down the drain.
The process is called alkaline hydrolysis and was developed in The U.S., in the
early nineties, to get rid of animal carcasses. It uses lye, 300 degree heat and 60
pounds of pressure per square inch to destroy bodies in big stainless steel cylinders
that are similar to pressure cookers.
No funeral homes in the U.S., or anywhere else in the world, offer it, yet. The
University of Florida in Gainesville and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota,
have used alkaline hydrolysis to dispose of cadavers since the mid-1990s.
Brad Crain, president of Bio Safe Engineering, the Brownsburg, Ind., company
that makes the steel cylinders, estimated 40 to 50 other facilities use them on
human medical waste, animal carcasses or both. The users include veterinary
schools, universities, pharmaceutical companies and the U.S. Government. The
cost to set up being approximately $300,000 may make it hard to sell the process
to funeral homes, however the operation saves money and waste in the long run.
Because of its environmental advantages, some in the funeral industry say it could
someday rival burial and cremation.
Alkaline hydrolysis is legal in Minnesota and in New Hampshire, where some New
Hampshire lawmakers want to repeal the 2006 state law legalizing it.
Alkaline hydrolysis doesn't take up as much space in cemeteries as burial. And the
process could ease concerns about crematorium emissions, including carbon
dioxide as well as mercury from silver dental fillings.
The coffee colored liquid created by the process, has the consistency of motor oil
and a strong ammonia smell. But proponents say it is sterile and can, in most cases,
be safely poured down the drain, provided the operation has the necessary permits.
In addition to the liquid, the process leaves a dry bone residue similar in
appearance and volume to cremated remains. It could be returned to the family in
an urn or buried in a cemetery.
|Every society deals in their own way of disposing of their dead. Many cultures use
Interment or burying them, whether in the ground, a tomb or a mausoleum.
Cremation is more popular in other parts of the world, but is steadily growing in
the United States. Also growing in numbers is Direct Disposition, for those
choosing to bypass services and going straight in the ground or straight to the
crematory. This is more often based on financial options since it is usually the least
Some choose to have a Burial at Sea, especially those who have served in the
Navy. Others, especially non religious people may "donate their body to science"
via an Anatomical Gift, to a university, medical facility, or a body farm.
In other places they allow nature to aid in the disposition of their loved ones.
Mummification is also just not a practice of the ancient Egyptians, it can be done
today if you choose. Cryonics or freezing of the body is available for those who
wish to wait for medical research to catch up with their cause of death. The latest
choice to become available is Lye Disposition, or alkaline hydrolysis, where the
body is broke down chemically. This is available in only a few locations in the U.S.
There is a short list of options for disposing of ones remains, but once a choice is
made the options involving that choice becomes limitless.
|This main topic focuses on all subjects,
but not limited to, topics dealing with
disposition of the body. Explanation of
the choices that are available, and what
to consider about those options before or
after. It also includes sections about
embalming, mummification, sea burial,
cryonics, lye disposition and more.
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