Without life-sustaining processes like blood circulation and metabolism, the body begins to degrade. Skin falls away, eyeballs disintegrate, hair turns to dust, and eventually, so, too, will your bones. All of this is good news for the worms and bacteria that live in soil and feast on decaying material like your dead body. And it may be comforting to know that you’ll be recycled — or at least composted — after death.
But according to the tenets of the some faiths, there is a way to thwart the process of decomposition. For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church held that individuals of the purest faith remain in a lifelike state after death, their bodies resisting the decay of the grave.
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Gil Pérez was a Spanish soldier of the Filipino Guardia Civil who allegedly suddenly appeared in the Plaza Mayor of Mexico City (more than 9,000 nautical miles from Manila, across the Pacific) on October 24, 1593. He was wearing the uniform of the guards of Palacio Del Gobernador in the Philippines, and claimed he had no idea how he had arrived in Mexico. Some historians doubt the accuracy of the story, which does not appear in writing until a century after the supposed event.
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Famadihana is a funerary tradition of the Malagasy people in Madagascar. Known as the turning of the bones, people bring forth the bodies of their ancestors from the family crypts and rewrap them in fresh cloth, then dance with the corpses around the tomb to live music. The Famadihana custom appears to be a custom of somewhat recent origin, perhaps only since the seventeenth century in its present form, although it may be an adaptation of premodern double funeral customs from Southeast Asia. The custom is based upon a belief that the spirits of the dead finally join the world of the ancestors after the body’s complete decomposition and appropriate ceremonies, which may take many years. In Madagascar this became a regular ritual usually once every seven years, and the custom brings together extended families in celebrations of kinship. These ceremonies are costly, mainly because of the expense of providing food for a large number of relatives and guests
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Oak Island is a 140-acre (57 ha) island in Lunenberg County on the south shore of Nova Scotia, Canada. The tree-covered island is one of about 360 small islands in Mahone Bay and rises to a maximum of 35 feet (11 m) above sea level. Oak Island is noted as the location of the so-called Money Pit, a site of numerous excavations to recover treasure believed by many to be buried there. The island is privately owned, and advance permission is required for any visitation. The story of the Oak Island treasure pit is fascinating and complex. It is a story of mystery, greed, controversy and very little humour. The Oak Island treasure has been sought by many individuals and corporations for over 200 years.
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[Warning: contains graphic images] Spontaneous human combustion (SHC) is a name used to describe cases of the burning of a living human body without an external source of ignition. There is speculation and controversy regarding SHC – some regard it as a unique and currently unexplained phenomenon, while others feel that cases described as SHC can be understood using current generally-accepted scientific principles. There are about 200 cited cases worldwide over a period of around 300 years; however, most of the alleged cases are characterized by the lack of a thorough investigation, or rely heavily on hearsay and oral testimony. In many of the more recent cases, where photographic evidence is available, it is alleged that there was an external source of heat present (often cigarettes), and nothing occurred “spontaneously.”
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Voyager Syndrome is the term given to a group of mental disorders relating to travel. The three most famous (which will be explained in more detail below) are Paris Syndrome, Jerusalem Syndrome, and Florence Syndrome. Voyager syndromes are a kind of culture shock, which refers to the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, uncertainty, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within a different and unknown cultural or social environment, such as a foreign country. It grows out of the difficulties in assimilating the new culture, causing difficulty in knowing what is appropriate and what is not. This is often combined with a dislike for or even disgust (moral or aesthetic) with certain aspects of the new or different culture.
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Bog Bodies, or the Bog People, are extremely well preserved and ancient corpses that have been discovered all over northwestern Europe. Typically Bog Bodies are found when workers drain sphagnum bogs and extract the peat moss. No one knows for sure how many Bog People have been uncovered in the past. Today, documented discoveries of Bog Bodies number around 700.
Bog Bodies can be found in various states. Some are merely skeletons and can only reveal a limited amount of information to scientists. Others are partially preserved and may still hold some clues as to who they were or how they died. Finally, there are those that have been completely preserved with their clothes still intact and their facial expressions the very same as they had been when they were buried. The most intriguing thing about these intact Bog Bodies is what the reveal about the manner in which they died.
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A feral child (feral, – wild or undomesticated) is a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has no (or little) experience of human care, loving or social behavior, and, crucially, of human language. Feral children are confined by humans (often parents), brought up by animals, or live in the wild in isolation. Just over a hundred incidences have been reported in English, though more incidences may have been unreported. These cases are considered interesting from a psychological and a sociological perspective. When completely brought up by animals the feral child exhibits behaviors (within physical limits) almost entirely like those of the particular care-animal, such as its variety of instincts, fear of or indifference to humans.
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“Somewhere amid the narrow lanes, the congested wharves, the stables, workshops, forges and fairs of the medieval city of Strasbourg, Frau Troffea stepped outside and began to dance. No music was playing and she showed no signs of joy as her skirts flew up around her rapidly moving legs. To the consternation of her husband, she went on dancing throughout the day. And as the shadows lengthened and the sun set behind the city’s half-timbered houses, it became clear that Frau Trofea simply could not stop. Only after hours of crazed motion did she collapse from exhaustion. Bathed in sweat with muscles twitching, she finally sank into a brief sleep. Then a few hours later she resumed her solitary dance. Within days, more than thirty people had taken to the streets seized by the same urgent need to dance. By early August 1518, the epidemic was spreading at an alarming rate.”
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An ossuary is a chest, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce. A body is first buried in a temporary grave, then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in an ossuary. The greatly reduced space taken up by an ossuary means that it is possible to store the remains of many more people in a single tomb than if the original coffins were left as is.
Many examples of ossuaries are found within Europe such as the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini in Rome, Italy, the San Bernardino alle Ossa in Milan, Italy, the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic, and Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of bones) in the city of Évora, in Portugal. The village of Wamba in the province of Valladolid, Spain has an impressive ossuary of over a thousand skulls inside the local church, dating from between the 12th and the 18th centuries.
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