Dorian (dorianegray) wrote in little_details,

Decomposition of a human body and its clothing

I'm plotting a new story which is going to start with a body being found in a (relatively shallow) limestone cave. But I'm having trouble tracking down a couple of details.

Specifically, the body, when found, will have been in the cave for about 40-70 years. My research indicates that it will, by that point, be a skeleton. My problems here are twofold: first, I can't seem to find out what effect being in a limestone cave will have on the bones - limestone caves tend to be damp, so will the bones be rotting? Or beginning to turn into stalactite-like things? Or something else? Secondly, the person who finds the body/skeleton is a professional archaeologist - will it be immediately evident to her that this body is not 100s/1000s of years old? Or will she have to wait for the results of the forensic tests? (I haven't set an exact timeline yet, but she'll probably be finding the corpse in the 1980s.)

The other thing I can't seem to find much about is the corpse's clothes. Will they have vanished completely? (The outer clothing, at least, will probably have been made of wool. Not sure about the underwear yet.) Or will there still be fragments of cloth to find? And if so, how big will they be?

I feel completely stupid for not being able to find this information for myself. Help with search terms and/or links would be greatly appreciated.
Tags: ~forensics: corpses

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