The method I am talking about is donation. For those of us who have drivers licenses there is an option to be an organ donor. Some people do not choose to become an organ donor in fear that the doctor will misdiagnose them as dead. Now the actual problem with donating organs is how long they are fresh. For several organs (kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas and intestines), they must be transplanted within hours of the persons death. These organs have a lost list of recipients, so finding a match is not difficult, but let us say a person who is an organ donor dies without anyone knowing of their death, byt the time they are found, those organs will be of no use to anyone. That said, they can donate their tissue. The tissue of the body can give the living back sight, can be used to cover burn wounds, and even repair hearts. But donating the body for organs is not the only way to donate the body. Medical schools are always looking for cadavers, and I am sure if you are specific in your will, you can donate your skeleton to another school once they are done with the fleshy parts of you. In a previous blog (http://anthropologicalconcepts.weebly.com/blog/the-body-farm), I spoke of the Body Farm, they accept human donations; also in the blog right before this one about human leather, you be made into a lasting book binding. The possibilities for donations are extensive and exciting.
Now onto methods that are off the beaten track. First up we have cannibalism. I have, again, covered this in a previous blog (http://anthropologicalconcepts.weebly.com/blog/-care-to-join-me-dinner), but this type of cannibalism is called necro-cannibalism. “There are two kinds of cannibalistic social behavior: endocannibalism (the act of consuming humans from the same community) and exocannibalism (eating humans from other communities).” Even though it seems as though all types of cannibalism has gone with the ages, there are still instances where it becomes necessary to consume the dead. But in the past, they had very different reasons. One widely accepted belief for eating the dead in primitive times was that the one eating them would receive the dead's abilities and so on. Other reasons would be to honour them, to insult them, or even as simple as they liked the taste of human.
The next method is something that happens either by accident or on purpose. The method is exposure. By accident I mean those who get lost in the wilderness or in an area not frequented by others, and their body is left to decompose or become eaten by the wildlife. That said, the method that is on purpose also has to do with being eaten by animals. Those who live in the mountains of Tibet perform a ritual by the name of jahtor, or sky burial. The way it works, first they must carry it to a designated location and is laid out naked. Once there the rogyapas, or body breakers, go to work. They dismember it, rip the flesh from the bones, and sometimes they mix it with a special mixture. After the ritual is done they offer it to the vultures who protect the site. Now, unlike our idea of a sad and somber funeral, they carry out this ritual with laughs, jokes, and all they would do when they would do manual labour.
The last method I will address is illegal in the United States; and that method is to taxidermy a human. Even though it is technically illegal, if it states it in the will of the deceased that they wish to be taxidermy, or, in Florida, if the immediate family wishes it (this requires lots of legal peoples), it is okay. Unlike the cost to taxidermy, let us say a black bear which is in the range of $2400 – 4500, the cost to taxidermy a human can go up to $500,000. The most famous taxidermy human is Jeremy Bentham, who died in 1832. He had it in his will that he be “dissected as part of a public anatomy lecture.” After this was done, they took his head, preserved it, and skeleton, put him in his clothes, and stuffed them with hay. He is currently in the University College London.
As you can see, we humans have thought of many ways to dispose of the dead. Whether a part of them is living on in someone else, or are eaten, something has to be done. If not, the estimated 56 million people who die every day will make certain places undesirable to visit or live in. I find it interesting how, in early human existence, the first method of disposing of the dead was supposedly burial, but, unlike the religious reasons that we use for burials nowadays, it was most likely to hide the smell of death in fear of predators finding the living community.
Please feel free to comment on what you thought of the blog, or other physical anthropological subjects you would like me to cover.