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Based on a discussion over at Mi Yodeya.

The relevant part here is the claim discussed there that if a body is buried wrapped in reed mats, it slows its decomposition by a factor of several years. Is this claim scientifically accurate?

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    $\begingroup$ To attempt to answer this question scientifically, we'd need to know what a "mat of reeds" is - only the Mi Yodeya post says "reed mat", the source says "mat of reeds" which isn't necessarily the same, and is a translation in the first place. In general, decomposition is very complex: for example, a wet environment would typically speed decomposition, but see the "bog bodies" for a counterexample. I'd also say the claim here is a bit nonsense in that "several years" is a time rather than a rate. Translating a religious writing to a scientific claim is typically quite fraught. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause May 20 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause I don’t know the first thing about decomposition except that it happens. I’m not sure how what I presented isn’t a rate: 100% decomposition of the flesh over a 3ish year period. $\endgroup$ – DonielF May 20 at 16:47
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    $\begingroup$ You should include the entire context in your question (briefly and precisely). Users should not require to visit other sites to understand the question. As already pointed out, we cannot interpret religious texts in scientific context primarily because the former are always super exaggerated and often also unrealistic. Since the original source is unverifiable, any interpretation would be solely based on opinion instead of facts. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG May 20 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG I don’t understand why anything beyond what I’ve presented here is relevant at all. If the answer is that what’s described here isn’t scientifically plausible, I’ll accept that - I’m not looking for a defense of it necessarily, just whether it’s accurate or not. And again, I don’t see why one can’t extrapolate from whatever data is known about factors which impact human decomposition to this particular question. $\endgroup$ – DonielF May 20 at 20:53
  • $\begingroup$ @DonielF one can extrapolate with precision only if the data is well defined. In your case, we don't know what exactly the "reed mat" is composed of, how well it insulates the body, where exactly the body was buried and what the soil composition was. How do you expect someone to give a logical answer? We just cannot give an answer that would fit a given story (especially when we don't know if the story is true or not). $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG May 20 at 20:57

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