Burying Why Who When

Burying of people after the death is a very common custom. However, time of burial after death can differ significantly according to culture and religion. In agriculture (animal breeding), burial may be necessary because of health and safety reasons, to stop the spreading of a disease causing the death of animals and thus avoiding contamination by necrophagous insects or other scavengers such as badgers, foxes, and birds of prey.

Blanchard (1915) reported how the technique of burial was used to get rid of cadavers of soldier and carcasses of horses during battles of the First World War.

Mass graves were dug with addition of lime and a thick layer of soil to destroy large numbers of cadavers and carcasses at the same time. In his article the author related the danger represented by 'swarm' of flies attracted by decaying flesh whose proboscis, legs and wings were contaminated by this 'impure contact'.

Burial may also be due to particular circumstances such as natural disaster (earth quake, landslide...). Mass grave had sometimes been dug in dramatic situation caused by natural disaster (Thieren and Guitteau 2000). Some authors of homicide disposed off the corpse of their victim by burying. Manmade burials, except in normal circumstances, are not very common. Haglund and Sorg (2002) reported statistics dealing within the state of Washington during a 9-year period (1981— 1990). Murderers used this modus operandi in only 1.38% of cases.

In France, elaboration of similar balance sheet is hard to do. Checking the database of the Forensic Entomology Department of the Forensic Science Institute (French Gendarmerie, IRCGN) revealed that since 1992 (creation of this laboratory), 33 referrals of more than 800 listed dealt with totally or partially buried bodies, that is in about 4% of expertise works. Half of them were related to real burial of corpses (2%).

From 1987 to 2008, 33 discoveries of 'buried' cadavers were also recorded in a French national database. Twenty-eight cases were real burial victims.

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