As human populations increase, finding greener ways to bury the dead are ranging from sea burials to more simple land burials such as those practiced by Jews and Muslims. Even more bizarre ways of disposing of human remains may be a green “stacking” solution, includingthose still practiced by descendents of ancient Zoroastrians in Iran.
A multi-level burial site
As ancient burial grounds come more and more under threat of being turned into apartment blocks and shopping malls simpler and perhaps more greener ways of disposing of the dead, especially historical personalities, will become paramount in an increasingly crowded world. One such historical personality, a former king of England, Richard III, is now found buried beneath a parking lot in the English city of Leicester.
The location is said to have been that of an old friary where the king’s body was laid to rest after he was killed defending his crown in The Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. The last of the Plantagenet line of royalty, Richard III was defeated by Henry VII of the Tudor family line of English Royalty; and the exact location of his body had been lost to historians for more than 500 years.
So are there greener burial methods that won’t result in loved ones being covered by parking lots? One solution which has been occurring in parts of Israel for nearly 10 years is known as multi-level or ” high density” burial, similar to that in mausoleums.
This method involves burying bodies in above ground compartments where as many as three or even four levels are utilized with each body placed inside a 60 by 60 by 200 cm chamber with a layer of dirt under the corpse to “reconnect” with the earth.
The vault is then hermetically sealed with a slab of marble or similar material and a silicon sealing substance. This method saves much land space over the conventional method in which as much as a dunam of land per day (1/4 acre) is used for burying bodies in the ground.
This new burial method was first introduced to the large Holon Cemetery and is now being used in several other locations as well. Many relatives of those now buried in this manner appear to be satisfied with this method; and even say that is it much cleaner and leas traumatic than the traditional method.
Israel has yet to use other methods of burial such as cremation, due largely to objections by religious groups and also due to memories of the Holocaust in which the bodies of as many as 3 million Jews were disposed of this way by the Nazis. While Jewish burial in Israel is not likely to involve sea burials, cremation, or Zoroastrian types of burial, the multilevel way of burial is likely to become more popular as long as respect for the dead and conditions of modesty are observed.
As for the remains of King Richard, they will now lie in a more appropriate place than under a parking lot.
Read more on greener burial practices: