Mudcat Café message #1975519 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #99243   Message #1975519
Posted By: Muttley
21-Feb-07 - 08:09 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
GRAB wrote:

"anyone can easily tell the difference between being unconscious from booze and being dead..........In other words, Muttley, it looks like you've been taken in by yet another piece of internet fakelore spam. :-/"


You've had a lot of experience with dead bodies have you????

In fact, the concept of "coma" is a fairly new one in medicine - barely 150 years old, +/-.

Back in the 18th century and earlier, a very low pulse and respiratory rate - i.e coma, would have been undetectable to almost every physician and indeed the lay individual. In many modern case, physiological activity is only apparent by electronic monitoring.

As an ex-paramedic I have even transported 3 patients (accompanied by a doctor and an ICU nurse)who were, to all intent and purpose 'dead'. There was NO discernible heartbeat via stethoscope - or even carotid pulse, no discernible respiratory activity and no attainable of the Blood Pressure via BP cuff and stethoscope. HOWEVER: the monitors attached showed cardiac activity, cerebral activity and a respiratory rate (aided by 'bagging' the patient mechanically by hand). Indeed, due to the extra personnel and the monitors - there wasn't a lot of room for the patients on any occasion and I had to travel in the front passenger seat and help monitor from there. (on one occasion I was the most comfortable person (not counting the patient) in the vehicle as I was the driver that day).

So if modern medicine can be fooled - then the medicine of the years prior to early - mid 19th century had NO chance. So NO I was not taken in by some "Internet Folklore Spam". In fact the internet has only come about as a major source of information since I LEFT the paramedical profession - I concluded my career as a differential diagnostics, Baratrauma, anatomy & physiology, and rescue expert and lecturer.

Lead poisoning over time CAN induce coma from which recovery is possible - - - - OCCASIONALLY. A sudden onset can kill, especially if the process has been ongoing beforehand and even as an acute event in its own right - remember Tomatoes were BANNED as a food substance in Britain for about 3 - 400 years because early consumers died after eating them. The acids leached the lead salts out of the pewter plates poisoning the eaters and it wasn't until a public display of "tomato consumption" was made off a china plate in Britain early in the 1800's that it was realised the plates were the culprit all along.

BTW - I am also a history teacher who happens to be addicted to Mediaeval and latter European (up to about 1800 - that's where my interests wane)trivia - especially medical and folkloric.


"Mythbusters" did a segment on being buried alive - their conclusion was to the effect that a person could not last more than a few minutes in a buried coffin, due to lack of oxygen. Probably something on-line about that somewhere ...

I saw that episode and he was buried in a coffin (modern) inside a container of sorts from memory and the fine soil poured on top.

Traditionally coffins - especially those of pre 19th and 20th century construction and even more especially those of the less wealthy were NOT as 'airtight' as those that the Mythbuster guy was buried in.
Secondly, the soil was not 'dry and fine' it was usually as clods of clay. When backfilled, there are many small airpockets to sustain air in a coffin longer than the mythbusters managed. Add to that the fact that air would seep into the casket more readily as well.
Add to that the fact that the person IN the casket was comatose and thus could not panic until consciousness took hold and required VERY little air before the "woke up under the sod".

It's also been revealed that the M/B's guy is also a (apparently) a little claustrophobic which would have added to his discomfort and immediate rise in respiratory rate and blood pressure once the soil was poured in. So - Not a true 'burial alive' myth - - - busted or otherwise.

Add to this that the Sir Walter Scott story has been around a LONG time; I heard it from my grandmother and father first - natives of Edinburgh - and then independently in secondary (high) school from an English Literature teacher and finally in a 'true' stories' alamanac when I was about 15 or so - no I don't recall the name of the book. That style of "Facts & Figures" text was a fairly common one growing up un the sixties and seventies.

Lastly, when I related the SWS story - I said his mother had been interred in a MAUSOLEUM - NOT in the ground (for some reason they still use the "to place in the earth" terminology for placement in a tomb or mausoleum as well).

So, in conclusion: GRAB - next time refrain from taking cheap shots that are so easily shot out of the saddle.