Premature burial, also known as live burial, burial alive, or vivisepulture, means to be buried while still alive.
Animals or humans may be buried alive accidentally on the mistaken assumption that they are dead, or intentionally as a form of torture, murder, or execution. It may also occur with consent of the victim as a part of a stunt, with the intention to escape.
Premature burial can lead to death through the following: asphyxiation, dehydration, starvation, or (in cold climates) hypothermia. A person trapped with fresh air to breathe can last a considerable time and burial has been used as a very cruel method of execution (as in cases of Vestal Virgins who violated the oath of celibacy), lasting sufficiently long for the victim to comprehend and imagine every stage of what is happening (being trapped in total darkness with very limited or no movement) and to experience great psychological and physical torment including extreme panic. The medical term for the fear of being buried alive is taphophobia.
At least one (almost certainly apocryphal) report of accidental burial dates back to the fourteenth century. Upon the reopening of his tomb, the philosopher John Duns Scotus (1266–1308) was reportedly found outside his coffin with his hands torn and bloody after attempting to escape. Alice Blunden of Basingstoke was said in a contemporaneous account to have been buried alive, not once but twice, in 1674.
Revivals of supposed "corpses" have been triggered by dropped coffins, grave robbers, embalming, and attempted dissections. Folklorist Paul Barber has argued that the incidence of unintentional live burial has been overestimated, and that the normal, physical effects of decomposition are sometimes misinterpreted as signs that the person whose remains are being exhumed had revived in his or her coffin. Nevertheless, patients have been documented as late as the 1890s as accidentally being sent to the morgue or trapped in a steel box after erroneously being declared dead.
Newspapers have reported cases of exhumed corpses which appear to have been accidentally buried alive. On February 21, 1885, The New York Times gave a disturbing account of such a case. The victim was a man from Buncombe County whose name was given as "Jenkins". His body was found turned over onto its front inside the coffin, with much of his hair pulled out. Scratch marks were also visible on all sides of the coffin's interior. His family were reportedly "distressed beyond measure at the criminal carelessness" associated with the case. Another similar story was reported in The Times on January 18, 1886, the victim of this case being described simply as a "girl" named "Collins" from Woodstock, Ontario, Canada. Her body was described as being found with the knees tucked up under the body, and her burial shroud "torn into shreds".
In 2001, a body bag was delivered to the Matarese Funeral home in Ashland, Massachusetts with a live occupant. Funeral director John Matarese discovered this, called paramedics, and avoided live embalming or premature burial.
In 2014 in Peraia, Thessaloniki, in Macedonia, Greece, the police discovered that a 45-year-old woman was buried alive and died of asphyxia after being declared clinically dead by a private hospital; she was discovered just shortly after being buried by children playing near the cemetery who heard screams from inside the earth and afterwards her family was reported as considering suing the private hospital. In 2015 it was reported that a separate incident also occurred in 2014 in Peraia, Thessaloniki. In Macedonia, Greece, police investigation concluded that a 49-year-old woman was buried alive after being declared dead due to cancer; her family reported that they could hear her scream from inside the earth at the cemetery shortly after burial and the investigation revealed that she died of heart failure inside the coffin and found out that it was the medicines given to her by her doctors for her cancer that caused her to be declared clinically dead and buried alive.
Robert Robinson died in Manchester in 1791. A movable glass pane was inserted in his coffin, and the mausoleum had a door for purposes of inspection by a watchman, who was to see if he breathed on the glass. He instructed his relatives to visit his grave periodically to check that he was actually dead.
Safety coffins were devised to prevent premature burial, although there is no evidence that any have ever been successfully used to save an accidentally buried person. On 5 December 1882, J. G. Krichbaum received U.S. Patent 268,693 for his "Device For Life In Buried Persons". It consisted of a movable periscope-like pipe which provided air and, when rotated or pushed by the person interred, indicated to passersby that someone was buried alive. The patent text refers to "that class of devices for indicating life in buried persons," suggesting that such inventions were common at the time.
In 1890, a family designed and built a burial vault at the Wildwood Cemetery in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with an internal hatch to allow the victim of accidental premature burial to escape. The vault had an air supply and was lined in felt to protect a panic-stricken victim from self-inflicted injury before escape. Bodies were to be removed from the casket before interment.
The Burning of books and burying of scholars (simplified Chinese: 焚书坑儒; traditional Chinese: 焚書坑儒; pinyin: fénshū kēngrú) refers to a supposed suppression of intellectual thought carried out by Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a unified China. Books and texts deemed to be subversive were burned and 460 Confucian scholars were reportedly buried alive in 212 BC. Modern scholars doubt these events — Sima Qian, author of the account of these events in Records of the Grand Historian, was an official of the Han dynasty, which could be expected to portray the previous rulers unfavorably.
Tacitus, in his work Germania, records that German tribes practiced two forms of capital punishment; the first where the victim was hanged from a tree, and another where the victim was tied to a wicker frame, pushed face down into mud, and buried. The first was used to make an example of traitors; the second was used for punishment of dishonourable or shameful vices, such as cowardice. According to Tacitus, the Ancient Germans thought that crime should be exposed, whereas infamy should be buried out of sight.
"They [Xerxes and his troops] marched into the Nine Ways of the Edonian to the bridges, and found the banks of the Strymon united by a bridge, but being informed that this place was called by the name of the Nine Ways, they buried alive so many in it so many sons and daughter of inhabitants, It is a Persian custom to bury people alive for I have heard that Amestris, wife of Xerxes, having grown old, caused fourteen children of the best families in Persia to be buried alive, to show her gratitude to the god who is said to be beneath the earth"
In ancient Rome, a Vestal Virgin convicted of violating her vows of celibacy was "buried alive" by being sealed in a cave with a small amount of bread and water, ostensibly so that the goddess Vesta could save her were she truly innocent, essentially making it into a trial by ordeal. This practice was, strictly speaking, immurement (i.e., being walled up and left to die) rather than premature burial. According to Christian tradition, a number of saints were martyred this way, including Saint Castulus and Saint Vitalis of Milan.
In Denmark, in the Ribe city statute, which was promulgated in 1269, a female thief was to be buried alive, and in the law by Queen Margaret I, adulterous women were to be punished with premature burial, men with beheading.
Within the Holy Roman Empire a variety of offenses including rape, infanticide, and theft could be punished with live burial. For example, the Schwabenspiegel, a law code from the 13th century, specified that the rape of a virgin should be punished by live burial (whereas the rapist of a non-virgin was to be beheaded). Female murderers of their own employers also risked being buried alive. In Augsburg 1505, for example, a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl were found guilty of killing their master in conspiracy with the cook. The boy was beheaded, and the girl and the cook were buried alive beneath the gallows. The jurist Eduard Henke observed that in the Middle Ages, live burial of women guilty of infanticide was a "very frequent" punishment in city statutes and Landrechten. For example, he notes those in Hesse, Bohemia, Tyrol. The "Berlinisches Stadtbuch" records that between 1412 and 1447, 10 women were buried alive there, and as late as in 1583, the archbishop of Bremen promulgated (alongside the somewhat milder 1532 Constitutio Criminalis Carolina punishment of drowning) live burial as an alternate execution method for punishing mothers found guilty of infanticide.
As noted by Elias Pufendorf, a woman buried alive would afterwards be impaled through the heart. This combined punishment of live burial and impalement was practiced in Nuremberg until 1508 also for women found guilty of theft, but the city council decided in 1515 that the punishment was too cruel and opted for drowning instead. Impalement was, however, not always mentioned together with live burial. Eduard Osenbrüggen relates how the live burial of a woman convicted of infanticide could be pronounced in a court verdict. For example, in a 1570 case in Ensisheim:
The verdict commanded the executioner to place the perpetrator in the grave alive, "and place two layers of thorns, the one beneath, the other above her. Prior to that he should place a bowl over her face, in which he had made a hole, and to give her through that a reed/tube into the mouth, then jump three times upon her, and lastly cover her with earth"
In this particular case, however, some noblewomen made an appeal for mercy, and the convicted woman was drowned instead.
Dieter Furcht speculates that the impalement was not so much to be regarded as an execution method, but as a way to prevent the condemned from becoming an avenging, undead Wiedergänger. In medieval Italy, unrepentant murderers were buried alive, head down, feet in the air, a practice referred to in passing in Canto XIX of Dante's Inferno.
In the 16th-century Habsburg Netherlands, where the Catholic authorities made a prolonged effort to stamp out the Protestant churches, live burial was commonly used as the punishment of women found guilty of heresy. The last to be so executed was Anna Utenhoven, an Anabaptist buried alive at Vilvoorde in 1597 (see drawing here). Reportedly, when her head was still above the ground she was given a last chance to recant her faith, and upon her refusal she was completely covered up and suffocated. The case aroused a great deal of protest in the rebellious north provinces, and foiled the peace feelers which King Philip III was at the time extending to the Dutch. Thereafter the Habsburg authorities avoided further such cases, punishing heresy with fines and deportations rather than death.
Into the seventeenth century in feudal Russia, live burial as execution method was known as "the pit" and used against women who were condemned for killing their husbands. In 1689, the punishment of live burial was changed to beheading. Live burial of Jews in such countries as Ukraine is reported; for example some instances occurred during the Chmielnicki Massacre (1648–1649) in Ukraine.
Among some contemporary indigenous people of Brazil with no or limited contact with the outside world, children with disabilities or other undesirable traits are still customarily buried alive 
There have been a number of cases of people pronounced incorrectly dead and buried alive thereafter.
Natural disasters have also buried people alive, as well as collapsing mines.
It has been used during wars and by mafia organizations.
Serbian officials are documented to have buried alive Bulgarian civilians from Pehčevo (now in the Republic of North Macedonia) during the Balkan Wars. During World War II, Japanese soldiers were documented to have buried Chinese civilians alive, notably during the Nanking Massacre. This method of execution was also used by German leaders against Jews in Ukraine and Belarus during World War II.
During the Gulf War, Iraqi soldiers were knowingly buried alive by American tanks of the First Infantry Division shoveling earth into their trenches. Estimates for the number of soldiers killed this way vary: one source puts it at "between 80 and 250", while Col. Anthony Moreno suggested it may have been thousands.
On rare occasions, people have willingly arranged to be buried alive, reportedly as a demonstration of their controversial ability to survive such an event. In one story taking place around 1840, Sadhu Haridas, an Indian fakir, is said to have been buried in the presence of a British military officer and under the supervision of the local maharajah, by being placed in a sealed bag in a wooden box in a vault. The vault was then interred, earth was flattened over the site and crops were sown over the place for a very long time. The whole location was guarded day and night to prevent fraud and the site was dug up twice in a ten-month period to verify the burial, before the fakir was finally dug out and slowly revived in the presence of another officer. The fakir said that his only fear during his "wonderful sleep" was to be eaten by underground worms. However, according to current medical science, it is not possible for a human to survive for a period of ten months without food, water, and air. According to other sources the entire burial was 40 days long. The Indian government has since made the act of voluntary premature burial illegal, because of the unintended deaths of individuals attempting to recreate this feat.
In 2010 a Russian man died after being buried alive to try to overcome his fear of death but he was crushed to death by the earth on top of him. The following year, another Russian died after being buried overnight in a makeshift coffin "for good luck".
Buried Alive is a controversial art and lecture performance series by art-tech group monochrom. Participants have the opportunity to be buried alive in a coffin for fifteen to twenty minutes. As a framework program monochrom offers lectures about the history of the science of determining death and the medical cultural history of premature burial.
St. Oran was a druid living on the Island of Iona in Scotland's Inner Hebrides. He became a follower of St. Columba, who brought Christianity to Iona from Ireland in 563 AD. When St. Columba had repeated problems building the original Iona Abbey, citing interference from the Devil, St. Oran offered himself as a human sacrifice and was buried alive. He was later dug up and found to be still alive, but he uttered such words describing what of the afterlife he had seen and how it involved no heaven or hell, that he was ordered to be covered up again. The building of the abbey went ahead, untroubled, and St. Oran's chapel marks the spot where the saint was buried.
In the fourteenth through nineteenth centuries, a popular tale about premature burial in European folklore was the "Lady with the Ring". In the story, a woman who was prematurely buried awakens to frighten a grave robber who is attempting to cut a ring off her finger.
The TV show MythBusters tested the myth to see if someone could survive being buried alive for two hours before being rescued. Host Jamie Hyneman attempted the feat, but when his steel coffin began to bend under the weight of the earth used to cover it, the experiment was aborted.
Alice Blunden (died 1674), of Basingstoke, was the subject of a notorious early modern account of premature burial.Angelo Hays
Angelo Hays (born c. 1918) is a French celebrity and inventor. He is best known for having survived a premature burial for two days.Blunden
Blunden is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:
Alice Blunden (died 1674), the subject of a notorious account of premature burial
Andy Blunden (born 1945), Australian writer and Marxist philosopher
Anna Blunden (1829–1915), English pre-Raphaelite artist
Arthur Blunden (1906–1984), English cricketer
Bill Blunden, British television and film editor
Bill Blunden (author), non-fiction writer
Edmund Blunden (1896–1974), English poet, author and critic
Godfrey Blunden (1906–1996), Australian journalist and author
Jeraldyne Blunden (1940–1999), American choreographer, founder and artistic director of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
John Blunden (politician) (1695–1752), Irish politician
Sir John Blunden, 1st Baronet (1718–1783), Irish baronet and politician
Mike Blunden (born 1986), Canadian ice hockey winger currently playing in the American Hockey League
Peter Blunden, Managing Director of The Herald and Weekly Times, publisher of News Limited titles in Victoria, AustraliaEdgar Allan Poe in television and film
American poet and short story writer Edgar Allan Poe has had significant influence in television and film. Many are adaptations of Poe's work, others merely reference it.Eleanor Markham
Eleanor Markham (born c. 1872) was an American woman who became one of the most prominent cases of an averted premature burial in the late 19th century.
According to news reports at the time, the 22-year-old Miss Markham was pronounced dead in Sprakers, New York on July 8, 1894, by a Dr. Howard, the family physician. Since the weather was quite warm, it was decided to have the burial quickly, and her coffin was closed and fastened after family members said goodbye on the morning of July 10. But on the way to the graveyard, the hearse was stopped after a noise was heard coming from the coffin. The lid was unfastened to find Miss Markham alive, exclaiming "You are burying me alive!," to which Dr. Howard reportedly said, "Hush child, you are all right. It is a mistake easily rectified."
Markham soon after fainted, but recovered after being administered some stimulants. She stated that she had been conscious the entire time of the preparations for burial, but was unable to cry out. She fully believed she would be buried alive, when finally, using all her will, she was able to make a knocking noise to draw attention.
The fear of premature burial was a topic of substantial discussion in the late 19th and early 20th century. Markham's case was among those included in the book Premature Burial and how it May be Prevented by William Tebb and Edward Vollum. Bill Bryson also mentions the "well-known case" of Markham in his 2010 book At Home: A Short History of Private Life.Lady with the Ring
The "Lady with the Ring" is a story about premature burial from European folklore. Versions of the story were popular throughout Europe in the 14th through the 19th centuries.List of horror films of 1962
A list of horror films released in 1962.Lunacy (film)
Lunacy (Czech: Šílení) is a 2005 Czech film by Jan Švankmajer. The film is loosely based on two short stories, "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" and "The Premature Burial", by Edgar Allan Poe. It is also partly inspired by the works of the Marquis de Sade. The film was shot between October 2004 and April 2005, on location in the village of Peruc close to Prague, and in Švankmajer's studio in the village of Knovíz.Manchester Mummy
Hannah Beswick (1688 – February 1758), of Birchin Bower, Hollinwood, Oldham, Lancashire, was a wealthy woman who had a pathological fear of premature burial. Following her death in 1758 her body was embalmed and kept above ground, to be periodically checked for signs of life.
The method of embalming was not recorded, but it probably involved replacing the blood with a mixture of turpentine and vermilion. The body was then put in an old clock case and stored in the house of Beswick's family physician, Dr Charles White. Beswick's apparently eccentric will made her a local celebrity, and visitors were allowed to view her at White's house.
Beswick's mummified body was eventually bequeathed to the Museum of the Manchester Natural History Society, where she was put on display and acquired the soubriquet of the Manchester Mummy, or the Mummy of Birchin Bower. The museum's collection was later transferred to Manchester University, when it was decided, with the permission of the Bishop of Manchester, that Beswick should finally be buried. The ceremony took place at Harpurhey Cemetery on 22 July 1868, more than 110 years after her death; the grave is unmarked.Peter Evans (musician)
Peter Evans is an American trumpet player based in Lisbon, Portugal, who specializes in improvisation and avant-garde music. Evans has been a member of the New York City musical community since 2003, when he moved to the city after graduating from The Oberlin Conservatory of Music. His earlier studies were in the Jazz Department of New England Conservatory of Music's School of Preparatory Education.
His primary groups as a leader are the Peter Evans Quintet (with Ron Stabinsky, Sam Pluta, Tom Blancarte and Jim Black) and the Zebulon trio (with John Hebert and Kassa Overall). In addition, Evans has been performing and recording solo trumpet music since 2003 and is widely recognized as a leading voice in the field, having released several recordings over the past decade. He is a member of several groups, such as Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Pulverize the Sound, Rocket Science, Premature Burial.
Evans has collaborated with a broad range of figures in modern music, including Weasel Walter, Dave Taylor, Evan Parker, Matana Roberts, Tyshawn Sorey, John Zorn, Mary Halvorson, Peter Brötzmann, Aaron Burnett, Okkyung Lee, and Nate Wooley. He has also premiered compositions by Brian Ferneyhough, George Lewis, Eric Wubbels, Anthony Braxton, and Barry Guy. He is also a member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and Wetby the ICE, Yarn/Wire, the Donaueschingen Musiktage Festival, the Jerome Foundation's Emerging Artist Program and was a 2014 Artist-in-Residence at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, NY. Evans performed at the 2016 Kanye West x Adidas fashion show in New York City. He has presented and/or performed his music at many major international festivals and has toured his own groups extensively in Europe, Canada and the United States.
In 2011, Peter Evans founded his recording label More is More Records which has released several highly acclaimed albums.
After his concert at Culturgest with Orquestra Jazz Matosinhos, in November 2018, Peter started to live in Lisbon, Portugal.Safety coffin
A safety coffin or security coffin is a coffin fitted with a mechanism to prevent premature burial or allow the occupant to signal that they have been buried alive. A large number of designs for safety coffins were patented during the 18th and 19th centuries and variations on the idea are still available today.Superbeast
"Superbeast" is a promotional single off Rob Zombie's solo debut, Hellbilly Deluxe. The song was co-written by Charlie Clouser, formerly of Nine Inch Nails. It also appears on Rob Zombie's Past, Present & Future, the greatest hits album The Best of Rob Zombie, and two remixes are contained on American Made Music to Strip By. The track appeared in the horror film Valentine in 2001 and the action/horror film End of Days in 1999. The song was played in the background of the trailer of Godzilla 2000: Millennium. The "Girl on a Motorcycle" remix of the song was frequently used in commercials for ECW T-shirts and future events. The song was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1999. On January 4, 2008, the song "Superbeast" was used to introduce the "Abyss vs. Manabu Nakanishi" match at Wrestle Kingdom II in Tokyo, Japan.
The song was covered by Transient for The Electro-Industrial Tribute to Rob Zombie in 2002 and was covered again in 2011 by Suicide Silence for the digital edition of The Black Crown.
The lyrics "Move the jaw, cry aloud, bound up the dead triumphantly" may be a reference to Edgar Allan Poe's "The Premature Burial" in which Poe says, "The movement of the jaws, in this effort to cry aloud, showed me that they were bound up, as is usual with the dead."Taphophobia
Fear of being buried alive is the fear of being placed in a grave while still alive as a result of being incorrectly pronounced dead. The abnormal, psychopathological version of this fear is referred to as taphophobia (from Greek τάφος - taphos, "grave, tomb" and φόβος - phobos, "fear"), which is translated as "fear of graves".Before the era of modern medicine, the fear was not entirely irrational. Throughout history, there have been numerous cases of people being buried alive by accident. In 1905, the English reformer William Tebb collected accounts of premature burial. He found 219 cases of near live burial, 149 actual live burials, 10 cases of live dissection and 2 cases of awakening while being embalmed.The 18th century had seen the development of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and crude defibrillation techniques to revive persons considered dead, and the Royal Humane Society had been formed as the Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned. In 1896, an American funeral director, T. M. Montgomery, reported that "nearly 2% of those exhumed were no doubt victims of suspended animation", although folklorist Paul Barber has argued that the incidence of burial alive has been overestimated, and that the normal effects of decomposition are mistaken for signs of life.There have been many urban legends of people being accidentally buried alive. Legends included elements such as someone entering into the state of sopor or coma, only to wake up years later and die a horrible death. Other legends tell of coffins opened to find a corpse with a long beard or corpses with the hands raised and palms turned upward. Of note is a legend about the premature burial of Ann Hill Carter Lee, the wife of Henry Lee III.Several notable historical figures are thought to have been afraid of live burial, including Chopin (who requested that his heart be cut out to ensure his death), George Washington (who requested that his body be laid out for three days), and Hans Christian Andersen and Alfred Nobel (who both asked to have their veins cut open).Literature found fertile ground in exploring the natural fear of being buried alive. One of Edgar Allan Poe's horror stories, "The Premature Burial", is about a person suffering from taphophobia. Other Poe stories about premature burial are "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Cask of Amontillado"—and to a lesser extent, "The Black Cat".
Fear of being buried alive was elaborated to the extent that those who could afford it would make all sorts of arrangements for the construction of a safety coffin to ensure this would be avoided (e.g., glass lids for observation, ropes to bells for signaling, and breathing pipes for survival until rescued).An urban legend states that the sayings "Saved by the bell" and "Dead ringer" are both derived from the notion of having a rope attached to a bell outside the coffin that could alert people that the recently buried person is not yet deceased; these theories have been proven a hoax.Although greater public confidence in the medical profession and its ability to diagnose death accurately has seen a reduction in fear of premature burial after the early 20th century there have been periods of public alarm in recent decades after medical errors in diagnosing death were reported. Taphophobia may remain common in some parts of the world. For example, a study of Pakistani women found severe taphophobia in one third of subjects with mental illness and a mild degree of this fear in half of the controls. Although rare in the developed world, a recent study reported three cases of taphophobia among older people in the west of Ireland.The Crime of Dr. Crespi
The Crime of Dr. Crespi is a 1935 American horror film starring Erich von Stroheim, Paul Guilfoyle, Jeanne Kelly, Dwight Frye, Harriet Russell, and John Bohn. It was released by Republic Pictures.The movie was filmed at Biograph Studios in The Bronx, New York and is loosely based on the Edgar Allan Poe short story, "The Premature Burial".The Premature Burial
"The Premature Burial" is a horror short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, published in 1844 in The Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper. Its main character expresses concern about being buried alive. This fear was common in this period and Poe was taking advantage of the public interest. The story has been adapted to a film.The Premature Burial (film)
The Premature Burial is a 1962 American International Pictures horror film, directed by Roger Corman, starring Ray Milland, also with Hazel Court, Alan Napier, Heather Angel and Richard Ney, screenplay by Charles Beaumont and Ray Russell, based upon the 1844 short story of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe. It was the third in the series of eight Poe-themed pictures, known informally as the "Poe Cycle", directed by Corman for American International.The Screaming Shadow
The Screaming Shadow is a 1920 American 15-chapter silent action film serial directed by Ben F. Wilson and Duke Worne. The film is considered to be lost. The serial's themes of "eternal life" and "premature burial" seem to tilt it into the horror genre as well. Actor/co-director Wilson died at age 54 in 1930 from a heart ailment.William Tebb
William Tebb (22 October 1830, Manchester – 23 January 1917, Burstow) was a British businessman and wide-ranging social reformer. He was an anti-vaccinationist and author of anti-vaccination books. He was concerned about premature burial.
|Abolitionist in practice|
ordinary crimes only