A. Quinn (anquinn) wrote in little_details,
A. Quinn

Open-air cremation, 101

Multiple questions about burning bodies open-air style!
I have a race of humanoid creatures who have just been killed.  There are 11 of them in total.  Setting is a compound in the mountains at the onset of winter, containing about 150 children ranging in age from 6 to 16.  The new leader of the children has decided to dispose of the bodies by burning.  (Not enough stones nearby, ground too hard for digging, don't want to dump them in a heap to get gnawed on by critters.)

Technology is roughly that of 1600s.  Fuel supply in this isolated area is limited to wood and lamp (whale) oil, no gasoline or pitch.  Trees are all around.  Some of the bigger kids are used to chopping wood, so they can get a good supply if they work at it.


1) How much wood would it take to burn 11 bodies, given that no accelerant is available and that ambient temperature is below freezing?  Is it reasonable that you could build up this much wood over six days?  Would wood chopped a few days ago be too "green" to use?

(This site mentions that it takes 480 kg (~1000 lbs) of wood to burn one body in the Hindu tradition.  Can anyone confirm?  That's a lot of wood!  http://www.zundelsite.org/debate/041_jam.html)

2) For burning that many bodies, would it be better to stack them all on a single pyre?

3) Would whale-fat lamp oil help the burn?  How much would you need?

4) How long does a pyre have to burn before you just have bones?  (Assume that the fire is as hot as you can get it, given the information above.  Winter, no advanced accelerant.)

I've tried Googling "open-air cremation", "funeral pyre," "funeral pyre winter", "how long to burn body".  Found very little detailed information on the criteria above.  I did find the following page on how to build a pyre, but it advises using kerosene (don't have that) and doesn't talk quantity.


Starting to think that cremation is just not reasonable, and the outdoor predators will be having a great snack after all.  :-(

Any advice or info is appreciated!

Tags: 1600-1699, ~fires, ~forensics: corpses, ~funerals

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