Icky!  Why would you rob a grave anyway?


The term “grave-robbing” is incorrect—in English and American jurisprudence, a dead human body isn’t property.  If you’re only interested in taking the body and not the clothes or jewelry, a robbery technically hasn’t been committed.  The more correct term for a person who digs bodies up from a graveyard for anatomical dissection is “body-snatcher” or, in 19th Century parlance, a “Resurrection man.” 

  • But how did this “resurrecting” become if not an official career choice, but a profitable side gig?
  • Adam Smith summed it up nicely in his 1776 theory on demand and supply:
  • More Americans are becoming aspiring medical students and doctors (the demand)
  • Aspiring medical students and doctors need to understand human anatomy
  • The best way to understand human anatomy is to dissect a human body
  • Somebody needs to provide human bodies for medical students and doctors to dissect. (the supply)