Excarnation

From Academic Kids

In archaeology and anthropology the term excarnation refers to the burial practice adopted by some societies of removing the flesh of the dead, leaving only the bones.

Excarnation may be precipitated through natural means, involving leaving a body exposed for animals to scavenge, or it may be purposefully undertaken by butchering the corpse by hand.

Examples of the former include the Tibetan sky burial and Comanche platform burials. Similarly, the lack of known burials in the European Iron Age and the small fragments of bone found around their settlement sites has been explained by some archaeologists as an indicator of widespread excarnation involving leaving bodies on platforms for the birds to eat.

Some Native American groups in the southeastern portion of North America practiced deliberate excarnation in Protohistoric times. Also, marks on some human bones imply that some prehistoric societies cut the flesh off the bones themselves.

In the middle ages, excarnation was practiced by European cultures as a way of preserving the bones when the deceased was of high status, or had died some distance from home. One notable example of a person who underwent excarnation following death was Christopher Columbus.

In Japan, where cremation is predominant, it is common for close relatives of the deceased to remove the bones from the ashes, transferring them to a special jar in which they will be buried. See Japanese funeral.

Following the excarnation process, many societies retrieved the bones for more orthodox burial.Template:Archaeology-stub

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