In terms of real world science, if a necromancer was looking to raise long dead corpses for a magical horde, what region or climate or type of area would they be most likely to find bodies that were still most intact?

How long after a battle or mass death would the bodies be usable for warriors in various places?

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding.SE! This is a good question. Could you clarify a few things? Are you looking for an explanation of the climate that would be best suited for preserving corpses, or the geological location? Are you including or excluding battlefields? Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 6, 2018 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ define intact, in the arctic buried corpses break down extremely slowly, but in most first world countries corpses still have their body fluids replace prior to burial. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 13, 2018 at 13:33

2 Answers 2


The desert

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A pre-dynastic grave in Egpyt of the Badarian period. This body (which was not purposefully mummified) is between 6400 and 6000 years old.

The arctic...or somewhere cold

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This is Ötzi the ice man, found in 1991 in a melting glacier in Austria South Tyrol, Italy. He died between 5400 and 5100 years ago.


You could find bodies 5000 years old or more with flesh still attached (if your necromancer is more into zombies than skeletons).

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ And in peat bogs, too... $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 6, 2018 at 3:05
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @DinotheGreen That is what we are here for, welcome to Worldbuilding. Make sure you don't accept an answer too quickly. Keep it open for at least 24 hours so everyone in every time zone can take a look. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Jan 6, 2018 at 3:06
  • $\begingroup$ I remember reading that they found a skull with a brain in it that was several hundred years old, at least, in a peat bog a few years ago. $\endgroup$
    – Andon
    Jan 6, 2018 at 3:07
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP I'm looking. The oldest peat body I can find that is recognizable as a human is only 2400 years old. The ones in the 6000 range look like a leather sack that used to hold a human. I actually don't even want to save those pics to my computer. It actually seems like a bunch of the best ones were destroyed in WWII, so no good pics on the internet. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Jan 6, 2018 at 3:11

Leave out any time period and region that has head hunting or liked building pyramids of heads, even fresh corpses would be unusable.

Your best time would be Napoleonic era or similar with huge amounts of men dead with less disabling wounds. Earlier times perhaps those despatched by horse archers or similar.

Best of all would be one of the numerous armies that perished through dehydration, starvation, plague or all of the above.

Really you're looking for scenarios where the bodies aren't badly damaged. So an army that left a large amount of plague deaths would be ideal. And realitively fresh corpses either in terms of time or environment.

Serendipitously I believe several armies lost a lot of men to starvation, freezing or disease in history while passing over mountains which would make the corpses last longer both because of the cold and because they'd be harder for predators/scavengers to get at.

  • $\begingroup$ Most vermin have no objection to eating plague victims, and bacteria will decompose a body no matter what it died from. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Jan 6, 2018 at 7:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark true that, I meant relatively fresh ones, will amend answer $\endgroup$
    – Kilisi
    Jan 6, 2018 at 8:59
  • $\begingroup$ Hate to mention this, but there are very few bodies from Napoleonic era because the evil civilians would go to the battlefield and remove the dead soldiers' teeth and then recycle the bodies into fertilizer... $\endgroup$
    – IKM
    Jul 20, 2019 at 19:07

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