While burying the dead in the ground seems like the most logical thing to do, not everyone agrees. And a brief look into the past shows that there have been a number of alternatives which, while hard to stomach today, were once fairly popular.
At one point, Zoroastrianism was one of the more popular religions in the world. Those who practiced it believed that once a person was dead, a corpse demon called a nasu daeva would appear and possess the body. Burying a tainted body in the clean earth was a taboo, so they came up with a better idea.
Meet the tower of silence.
These ominous structures date as far back as the 9th century, and can be found all over Asia and the Middle East.
They were built to dispose of the dead, which were considered unclean and unfit for cremation or tradition burial in the pure earth.
While mausoleums and tombs are meant to preserve the dead, the tower of silence is more like a giant garbage disposal.
The dead are laid out around the amphitheater as an offering to the sky and end the elements.
Constructed around a central well, the outer ring is for adult males, the middle is for women, and the innermost circle near the pit is meant for the young.
Once the bodies are arranged, birds swoop down and begin to pick the corpses.
Combined with the harsh elements, wind, sun, and rain, the bodies are soon stripped to the bone.
What remains is then swept into the pit at the center.
Over time, the remains, now clear of demons, break down and rejoin the soil.
As crazy as it sounds, this method is still practiced in some parts of the world today, particularly Iran and India.
But its use is declining…
… as towers of silence are considered something of a health hazard by modern standards.
Learning about these ancient burial methods is absolutely fascinating, no matter how gory they seem.