Mental Floss

Evaluating Death in the 18th Century

Jill Harness

We've all heard the horror stories of people being buried alive and leaving claw marks in the coffin, but doctors-of-old did work hard to ensure their patient was in fact dead. Unfortunately, the technology was a little spotty at best—to evaluate a patient's death, doctors would often resort to strange measures, including burning a patient's arm, pulling her tongue or literally blowing smoke in her butt.

These tests led to the creation of some rather terrible jobs in the morgue. Over at Boing Boing, the community is discussing which method would be the most effective. The conversation is short so far, but already pretty amusing.