Burial alive, as a method of capital punishment, has been known since the days of Ancient Rome. For example, a vestal who broke her vow of virginity was buried alive with a supply of food and water for one day (which did not make much sense, since death usually occurs from suffocation within several hours). Many Christian martyrs were executed by burial alive. In 945, Princess Olga ordered to bury the Drevlyan ambassadors along with their boat. In medieval Italy, unrepentant murderers were buried alive. In the Zaporozhye Sich, the murderer was buried alive in the same coffin with his victim. This type of execution was used by the Nazis in relation to the Jewish population of the USSR during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.
However, at the moment, according to Russian legislation, deliberate burial alive, which led to death, qualifies as a murder committed with particular cruelty.
The fear of being buried alive (taphophobia) is one of the common human phobias, and for good reason. Back in 1772, the Duke of Mecklenburg introduced a mandatory postponement of the funeral until the third day after death to prevent a possible burial alive. Soon, this measure was adopted in a number of European countries. And soon the size of this phobia led to the fact that, starting from the second half of the 19th century and up to 1934, special "safe coffins" equipped with means of rescue for those buried alive were snapped up in Europe and North America.
The fear of being buried alive was experienced by a number of famous personalities. For example, Gogol and Tsvetaeva were afraid to be buried alive, and they specifically emphasized this - Gogol in Selected Passages from Correspondence with Friends, Tsvetaeva in her suicide note before committing suicide. The widespread legend that Gogol was indeed buried alive - upon exhumation, his body was found lying prostrate in a coffin - is untenable.
A famous victim of the fear of being buried alive was Alfred Nobel, whose fear was "hereditary" - his father, inventor Emmanuel Nobel, was also afraid of being buried alive and even invented one of the first "safe coffins". British writer Wilkie Collins also suffered from this phobia, and in such a strong form that every night he left a "suicide note" in which he asked the reader to thoroughly verify his death if he did not wake up. For the same reason, the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer bequeathed to wait with his funeral five days after death, as a result of which the smell of decomposition of the body interfered with the philosopher's funeral.
Hannah Bezwick, a resident of Manchester, a wealthy Englishwoman who experienced a pathological fear of being buried alive by mistake (and she had a reason for this: her brother was almost buried alive by mistake) became a kind of legend. In accordance with the will, the body of Hannah Bezwick was embalmed after her death in 1758 and preserved for more than a hundred years without burial "for periodic checking for signs of life." During its existence, Hannah Bezwick's mummy became widely known as the Manchester Mummy, being an exhibit of the Museum of the Manchester Society of Natural History for several decades. Only in 1868, after Hannah Bezwick was declared "irrevocably and undoubtedly dead, " her body was finally buried.
Cases of burial alive in antiquity and the Middle Ages undoubtedly were and gave rise to a lot of legends about ghouls and the revived dead. It seems that the good fellow villagers, led by the priest, "calmed" those who came to life with an aspen stake rather quickly. But what about the situation in our enlightened age? It is believed that with the modern level of medicine in developed countries, erroneous burial alive is completely excluded. However, repeated cases of incorrect determination of death - as a rule, due to the error of the inhabitants or the illiteracy of doctors - have been recorded in our time.
In 2003, 79-year-old Italian pensioner Roberto de Simone was pronounced dead by doctors and taken to relatives for burial. When everything was already ready for the funeral ceremony and the coffin was to be closed, Simone opened his eyes and asked for water.
On August 15, 2003, 73-year-old Vietnamese Nguyen Van Kwan lay in the refrigerator of the morgue for seven hours, after which it was discovered that he was alive.
In 2007, doctors at Dublin's Mater Hospital mistakenly pronounced dead a 30-year-old patient and sent him to the morgue. The error in the diagnosis was discovered by the morgue employees who arrived to collect the corpse.
In November 2007, a resident of the American city of Frederick (Texas, USA), 21-year-old Zach Dunlap, was pronounced dead at the Wichita Falls hospital, where he was taken after a car accident. The relatives have already agreed to the use of the young man's organs for transplantation, but during the farewell ceremony, he suddenly moved his leg and palm.
On August 19, 2008, in Israel, doctors at the Nahariya Hospital mistakenly pronounced a premature baby girl dead and placed her in a refrigerator. A few hours later, when the little girl's body was removed for burial, she moved. The girl was not saved.
In January 2010, 76-year-old Josef Guz from Katowice, Poland, was nearly buried alive. The doctor officially pronounced death. But before closing the lid of the coffin, the funeral agent accidentally touched the neck of the "deceased" and discovered a heartbeat.
On February 18, 2010, in the Colombian city of Cali, a "dead" 45-year-old woman suddenly began to breathe and move as funeral directors prepared her for burial.
On December 23, 2011, in one of the morgues of the Crimean capital (Simferopol), a curious incident occurred: a man who was mistakenly brought back to his senses during a rehearsal of a group that plays heavy metal. The group rehearsed in the morgue by agreement with the management. According to the musicians, this place had a suitable atmosphere and its silence did not bother anyone.
On February 4, 2013, a 57-year-old resident of the Pskov region was mistakenly pronounced dead and placed in the refrigerator compartment of the morgue, where he died of the cold.
Interestingly, burial alive was explored in episode 5 of the first season of Legend Busters. It turned out that a person can safely be in a closed and buried coffin for no more than half an hour. And getting out of the coffin is practically impossible, since they are buried to a depth of 2 meters, and the soil is clearly not black earth, but ordinary clay.