Coffins are so First Millennium: The Dead of the Future Will Become Trees

capsuli-mundi400Regardless of faith and religion, the idea of returning to nature after death appeals to a wide array of people. Italian designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel have developed the technology for a revolutionary new concept in burial. Called “Capsula Mundi,” the project consists of an organic, biodegradable capsule that will convert a dead body, placed inside, into the nutrients for a specific tree that grows above it.

Before death, an individual would be able to choose the type of tree they will help grow and the location of the pod. With about 100,000 species of trees in the world, the options are endless.

In Italy, traditionally a Catholic country, alternative burials are illegal. The Capsula Mundi project is therefore at the conceptual stage at this point. In the future, however, the project’s designers envision entire forests of “living” trees instead of traditional cemeteries, with their stone monuments and wooden coffins.

The idea that a descendant could visit a living, growing tree instead of a block of stone seems to appeal to many people. Sacred forests and groves played a major role in the pagan religions of early Germanic and Celtic peoples. A sacred grove even made its way into the Christian tradition, in the form of the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus spent the last hours of his life meditating.