7. Mountains of Silence
Zoroastrians believe the body is impure and shouldn’t pollute the earth after death through burial or cremation. Instead, the deceased are brought to a ceremonial “tower of silence”, usually located on an elevated mountain plateau, and left exposed to the animals and elements. When the bones have been dried and bleached by the sun, they are gathered and dissolved in lime.
6. Tree Burials
Because ground burials are passé, Indigenous tribes in many parts of the world discovered that the best way of disposing the dead was to put them up high. Groups in Australia, British Columbia, the American southwest and Siberia were known to practice tree burial, which involved wrapping the body in a shroud or cloth and placing it in a crook to decompose.
5. Viking Ship Burials
Middle Age Vikings lived and literally died by the sea. After death, wealthier Vikings were placed in ships filled with food, jewels, weapons, food and even sometimes servants or animals for their comfort in the afterlife. The boats were interred in the ground, set alight or sent out to sea. The ultimate postmortem destination for Viking warriors was Valhalla, or “Odin’s Hall”, made famous in the Old Norse sagas.
Send your corpse on a tour of museums ’round the world with plastination, developed by German scientist Gunther von Hagens. His popular “Body Worlds” exhibits showcase the controversial preservation technique, which involves dissecting the body into bits, embalming it with a hardening fluid and reposing the body into various ‘educational’ positions.
3. Balinese Cremation
Contrary to the more somber western funerals, cremation ceremonies among the Hindus of Bali have an almost carnival-like atmosphere. Festive floats parade down local streets accompanying the body to a burning ground, where it is transferred into a ceremonial bull receptacle and set alight.
Cryonic science is currently only legal to perform on those who’ve been pronounced dead. Soon after dying, participants are stored in a liquid nitrogen solution to prevent decay until that time when death becomes a reversible phenomenon. Until then, the bodies remain on ice.
The mummies of ancient Egypt are probably the world’s most famous dead bodies. Reserved for members of the upper classes, mummification involved the removal of all organs including the brain, which was pulled through the nose by a hook. The body was then stuffed with dry materials like sawdust and wrapped in linens. The Egyptians believed that mummification preserved the soul for its journey into the afterlife.