Sunday, 5 January 2014

Density of the dead

An article How Corpses Helped Shape the London Underground in Gizmodo, based on the 2008 book Necropolis: London and Its Dead by Catharine Arnold, contains startling facts. The article mentions the horrendous Enon Chapel and that subway tunnels were driven through forgotten catacombs thick with bones.

Even in relatively unpopulated Ottawa the tunnel for the new LRT is being driven through an old graveyard. It set me thinking about the density of burials.

The mean population density for the 7 billion people on earth today, for land area only, is 47 per sq km. It is claimed that about 105 billion of our species have existed on earth so there are 705 deceased people per sq km. The countries of Singapore, Hong Kong, Bahrain and  Bangladesh have larger population densities and many of the world's cities have larger population densities, led by Manila at 42,857 per sq km.

Compare that to London's Manor Park Cemetery with 387,000 interments in its 0.174 sq km, or 2.2 million per sq km.

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