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Andre_Laurent
09-25-2006, 03:37 AM
Okay, I don't really expect anyone to know this but maybe someone knows where I can find out.

I need to know what a properly embalmed and buried body would look like after four or five months, if say... someone dug it up and opened the box.

After considerable time on the net, I know how bodies that haven't been embalmed and planted break down and rot and I even found out about really horrifying critters called 'coffin flies' (shivers - look that one up) but I can't find out what an emblambed, buried body looks like. And I NEED to know.

cree
09-25-2006, 03:59 AM
Eh. I can offer nothing of what you need, but after taking your advice to look up coffin flies, I hereby refuse to die.

Andre_Laurent
09-25-2006, 04:03 AM
Eh. I can offer nothing of what you need, but after taking your advice to look up coffin flies, I hereby refuse to die.
Oh hell no, I'm never going to croak after reading about that!

I wasn't to happy about the embalming procedure either.

Perks
09-25-2006, 04:09 AM
I'm thinking your best bet would be to call a funeral home. I recently did a bit of research into decomposition and the variables are so numerous (and so vastly dicate the result) that you need an expert to quiz if you need to get it right.

ETA - I'll die alright, dammit, but I'll either be plastinated or dipped in acid and hung from a bolt through my skull in a biology lab. No coffin flies for me, thank you very much.

Andre_Laurent
09-25-2006, 04:11 AM
I'm thinking your best bet would be to call a funeral home. I recently did a bit of research into decomposition and the variables are so numerous (and so vastly dicate the result) that you need an expert to quiz if you need to get it right.
Crap... I have phone phobia, lol.

Perks
09-25-2006, 04:15 AM
Hmmm. Then you'll have to google yourself to death - coffin flies for you.

Honestly, I've just taken to ringing up direct sources. Most people are more than happy to talk to you for a few minutes, if you tell them you're writing a book. If you need lots of time and info, get their name and tell them they'll make the acknowledgement page.

Vincent
09-25-2006, 04:20 AM
Got a shovel?

Here's an interesting little online discussion.

http://www.dmt123.com/diseases-conditions/521-1-dmt123-1.html

Andre_Laurent
09-25-2006, 04:35 AM
Got a shovel?

Here's an interesting little online discussion.

http://www.dmt123.com/diseases-conditions/521-1-dmt123-1.html

lol, I need to find an "ask the medical examiner" site.

Evaine
09-25-2006, 08:13 PM
The soil type will make a difference - a very acid soil will break things down a lot faster than clay.

Burial in a crypt is different again - I knew a couple of people who worked on the Spitalfields dig, which was basically removing 200 year old coffins from the crypt under the church (archaeologists being cheaper than any other method of removal).
Some of the bodies were dry skeletons. Some were almost perfectly preserved, down to details of lace on the shrouds.
Some were swimming in "body liquor", I think they called it - a sort of brown and smelly soup made of the decomposing body.
At least one archaeologist working on the project went home from work one evening and was never seen again - and no-one was really surprised about that.

On some Greek islands bodies are placed in a vault for a year, and then taken out for permanent burial. The tradition used to be that, if the person had been virtuous, then the body would have decomposed properly, and if they'd been sinful, then there would be a higher rate of preservation.

This was fine before the advent of modern medicine - but modern antibiotics etc. tend to preserve the body for longer, so some families were getting a bit of a shock about what dear old Uncle Stavros had been up to when he was alive when they came to move the body....

Andre_Laurent
09-25-2006, 08:23 PM
Some were swimming in "body liquor", I think they called it - a sort of brown and smelly soup made of the decomposing body.

Now that's a keeper, maybe even better than the coffin flies... scurries off to make notes... must find a way to use both of those sometime.

Vincent
09-25-2006, 11:37 PM
Yes, that human 'soup' happens when the body is sealed in an airtight chamber, like a lead lined coffin. As long as it can't leak, the soup can last centuries.

Billytwice
09-26-2006, 12:08 AM
I've heard of 'ashes to ashes' and 'dust to dust'
but 'soup to soup' does have a certain primordial
ring to it...

Bk_30
09-26-2006, 08:40 AM
I knew cremation was the way to go!

soloset
09-26-2006, 08:51 AM
You might try Death's Acre (http://www.amazon.com/Deaths-Acre-Inside-legendary-forensic/dp/0399151346), by Dr. Bill Bass.

I seem to recall this looked like a pretty handy resource; it's been a while since I read it but it's about a guy who did a bunch of testing on remains to learn more about decomposition rates and such.

Andre_Laurent
09-26-2006, 03:45 PM
You might try Death's Acre (http://www.amazon.com/Deaths-Acre-Inside-legendary-forensic/dp/0399151346), by Dr. Bill Bass.

I seem to recall this looked like a pretty handy resource; it's been a while since I read it but it's about a guy who did a bunch of testing on remains to learn more about decomposition rates and such.
Thanks. I'll give it a lookielu.

Julie Worth
09-26-2006, 04:31 PM
Wikipedia has a useful article on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decomposition

Andre_Laurent
09-26-2006, 04:52 PM
Wikipedia has a useful article on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decomposition
Yeah, I had checked that out already.

I'm just dying (no pun intended) to describe the face as blue/green looking but I just know that is wrong! Damnit.

Edit:

Yep, wrong. I tried the local coroner's office, yes I did, and given the conditions my character was planted under, at three months post-planting, he would still look "good". Damnit.

Kentuk
10-09-2006, 04:04 AM
On some Greek islands bodies are placed in a vault for a year, and then taken out for permanent burial. The tradition used to be that, if the person had been virtuous, then the body would have decomposed properly, and if they'd been sinful, then there would be a higher rate of preservation.

Are you sure about this? From my Russian lit days I remember the opposite was true with the Russian Orthodox. Saints were better preserved.

Three months? That is about the right amount of time to determine if the body was properly embalmed. Done right the tissue becomes like soap and it would possible for someone emotionally attached to not feel they were really gone. Done wrong no soap, bunch of foul acidic liquid perhaps even an explosive like event when the casket was opened.

Edward2006
10-13-2006, 04:50 PM
http://www.funerals.org/faq/embalm.htm

http://www.funerals.org/faq/myths.htm

http://experts.about.com/e/d/de/Decomposition.htm


Cordially,
Edward.

PattiTheWicked
10-13-2006, 06:13 PM
Icky stuff for writers -- one of my most favorite pages ever.

http://www.dplylemd.com/Questions/archive/archives.htm

Elodie-Caroline
10-13-2006, 06:34 PM
Here's a link all about the stages of decomposition, including pics and a movie (of Pigs, because their body/fat ratio is the same as a human's) that might be helpful for you...

http://www.deathonline.net/decomposition/decomposition/index.htm


Ellie

Edward2006
10-13-2006, 06:38 PM
This is why I HATE horror stories, and try to stay away from pathology.

Dekomposer
10-13-2006, 06:40 PM
As someone with a little knowledge on the subject, I can tell you that they don't look too handsome!

HorrorWriter
10-13-2006, 08:12 PM
Thanks for the links, guys! too cool! Autopsy on HBO is helpful as well. Dr. Michael Baden is a genious!