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Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween

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Author Topic: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween  (Read 1872 times)
Vlad the Impaler
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Posts: 1791

« Reply #150 on: October 31, 2009, 01:34:43 am »

Why would they have done that to the corpse?
This was an ancient folkloric tradition. We have determined that this superstition resulted from a misinterpretation of thanatological (death-related) data. In the 16th and 17th centuries, little was known about what happens to the body after death. They knew about immediate postmortem changes, such as cooling of the body (algor mortis) and temporary stiffening of the muscles (rigor mortis), but these changes don't really alter the appearance of the deceased. The ensuing decay and decay and putrefaction--which reduce a corpse to a skeleton--were poorly understood because they happen in the grave. When graves were reopened, it was usually after years, when the body had completely turned into a skeleton. So they associated death with a cold and stiff corpse or blanched skeleton, and allegorical paintings from the time confirm this.
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