Moriwen1 (moriwen1) wrote in little_details,

Sky burial - body deterioration

Setting: Quasi-middle-ages fantasy (magic is present but irrelevant), desert conditions (similar to New Mexico desert).

One of the cultures in my story practices sky burial (a.k.a. platform burial) in which a body is exposed on a platform and left to deteriorate. I'm needing to describe what a body would look like after approximately one month.

I've googled an assortment of key terms: sky burial, platform burial, body deterioration, corpse decomposition, bodies in desert, and other combinations thereof.

I've also checked the Wikipedia pages for sky burial, platform burial, mummification, and vultures (among others).

From what I've seen, a body just left in the desert may or may not mummify without external help, and will probably get picked apart somewhat by scavengers if specific efforts aren't made to keep them away. But there are some details I haven't been able to find satisfactory information on.

1) How do mummification and predators balance out? After a month, will the body be mostly mummified with minimal damage from predators, or mostly just bones with some mummified flesh?

2) What will it smell like after a month? Still very bad? Smell almost gone?

3) What kind of maggots/other insects will be present, in desert conditions?

4) Is the face likely to be recognizable at all, or completely ruined?

Any other descriptive information that springs to mind would be appreciated as well. There's a lot of good resources I've found on how bodies deteriorate, but few about desert conditions, and even fewer on sky burial.
Tags: ~forensics (misc), ~forensics: corpses

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