Jun 2, 2023
This Radiolab episode sort of blew my mind:
Zoroastrians put their dead on top of a structure called The Tower of Silence where vultures devour the body in a matter of hours. It's clean, efficient, eco-friendly. It's how it's been for thousands of years.
The official term is excarnation -- "the practice of removing the flesh and organs of the dead before burial. Excarnation may be achieved through natural means, such as leaving a dead body exposed to the elements or for animals to scavenge; or by butchering the corpse by hand."
I've been to one in Mumbai. It's this hill in the middle of this big bustling city, but when you get there it's like just this super forested quiet area. It almost feels like a jungle, it's so dense. And at the top of it there's a flat, like, cement slab in a circle that's open to the sky.
And there's walls around it but there's no roof on it. And there's different layers to it. The adult men go on the outer edge of this cement slab, women will go in the middle, and children, if they die, will go near the center.
And there's thousands of vultures surrounding this place, just waiting. And yeah, the vultures just devour the body, and within a few hours all that's left is just a few bones.
We call it a sky burial. And I don't know, I just think it's incredible. Like, in the religion the idea is that the second someone dies there's a corpse demon called Nasu. And they believe that that demon is what starts to cause the decay of the body. And so, you know, when the vultures eat the body, they're essentially protecting us from this demon.
I've mentioned before my preference for resomation after I die, but this is an even more all-natural method. #nature