On Friday I posted this puzzle…..

A man was killed in a vicious fight in 1958, and was buried in 1957. How is this possible?

If you have not tried to solve it, have a go now. For everyone else the answer is after the break.

He was killed late in December 1958 B.C. and buried in January 1957 B.C.

I have produced an ebook containing 101 of the previous Friday Puzzles! It is called PUZZLED ais available for the Kindle (UK here and USA here) and on the iBookstore (UK here in the USA here). You can try 101 of the puzzles for free here.


    1. Richard, you have got to be kidding. Absolutely nobody (but you apparently) would be discussing BC dates today without putting the “BC” after the year. A far better answer would be that he was killed on Jan 1, 1958 AD and then moved west across a time zone(s) to a location where it was still Dec 31, 1957 AD.

    1. When you state a date or year without adding anything it is “by default” AD. So the puzzle is not good, because it actually asks about AD dates just to break this legitimate premise in the solution.

    1. This was my approach too. I figured 1958 could be an address, and/or 1957 could be a plot number in the cemetery. Either way, at least as good an answer as the real one!

    2. Odd numbers are on one side of the street even numbers the other, he can’t be buried “next door”, he would have been buried “across the road at number 1957”

    3. Tux: That’s the convention in many places, but it’s far from universal. In britain, for example, it’s more common for numbers to run sequentially up one side of the street and then down the other.

    1. I took the international dateline answer too, but had the victim killed on a ship at sea travelling in an easterly direction early on the 1st January 1958 just short of the International Date Line. He was then buried a few hours later on the other side of the IDL. He could, of course, be buried at sea as was the tradition in the past, although there are islands in the Pacific that could have been used.

      To my mind that’s a much more elegant answer than Richard’s rather clunky one that requires a body to be stored above ground for the best part of 4,000 years. I suppose you might argue that an Egyptian mummy in a sarcophagus isn’t actually buried, so it is possible that such a body might be used, but I prefer the IDL answer.

    2. Wiseman, i wont accept your solution.. simply becasue at the day of his dead it was actually not “somejear BC”. I alos doubt that you might be able to provied proof that this acutally happend….
      Calendars have changed so often in the past that it seems impossible to define when exacly some person has died some 4000 years before…
      so prefer the dateline solution (or the buried and then eaten up miner)

    3. I used the IDL also. That makes sence. I have strong doubts that there was a “January” or December” back in 1958BC. It’s a very contrived answer at best.

    4. I also came up with that answer.
      My alternate answer is that he was buried in 1957 but was actually alive and escaped the grave, only to die for real next year in a fight.

  1. My answer:
    in December 1957 he was a miner, and the mine collapsed, causing him and his colleagues to be buried alive. Due to hunger he got killed in January 1958 by a colleague who wanted to eat him…

    1. Ha! Buried alive in a mining disaster is exactly what I came up with. That and the dateline solution are both better than the B.C. answer…

  2. Richard’s “Solution” is wrong. It should read died in1958BC and buried in 1957BC, but instead he’s put buried in 1959BC. He should not, of course, try to name the months using modern terms.

    There is, another solution I thought of where he was killed across the road to the cemetery hence the consecutive address numbers, or they could even be plot numbers within the cemetery.

    1. The address solution is clever out-of-the box thinking.

      Crossing the Pacific eastwards was one of my answer. It would be a bit of a rush to have such a quick burial, but it is plausible enough.

      And the modern person would have that exact year written in the headstone, while the ancient warrior’s cannot possibly say 1958 B.C., much less December.

      For one thing, our names of the month originate from Roman times. For another, the beginning of the year was set to January only since Julius Caesar. Before his edict, December was the 10th month just as the name indicates.

  3. I thought it was a great idea to turn friday comments off. Much better to discuss the answer once we actually have one to take pot shots at.

    1. I think it was a terrible idea to turn off the Friday comments. They are what makes the whole thing fun. Feels like we’re all being punished for the sins of a few idiots. More interesting debate has always been generated on the Friday than on the Monday.

  4. It would be nice if Richard at least acknowledged that he edited the answer after people pointed out that it was wrong.

    On Friday I posted the puzzle …
    On Monday I posted the answer …
    Slightly later on Monday I posted the correct answer …

  5. Perhaps a more satusfying answer is that he’s killed in a flight, travelling towards the international date line on News Years Day 1958. The plans crosses the line after he dies and when the plane lands, it’s still 1957 and he is buried before midnight.

    1. That Whovian answer has to be the most original of the lot! 🙂

      Btw, I theorised the IDL solution – after all, all three elements of our current calendar (year, month, day) were either created or brought together A.D., so the B.C. solution only works from our PoV, not that of those living at the time of the unfortunate man’s death.

  6. My guess is that he he was burried alive late december…

    And the monday puzzle :

    A man was killed in a vicious fight in December 1958 B.C., and was buried in Januari 1959 B.C. How is this possible?

  7. Did Richard prevent comments on this last ‘It’s the Friday Puzzle’ page? If so, good. But bad that people couldn’t refrain from giving away the answer for the last few months. But frankly, saying how long it took to solve the puzzle is not an important question, really.

  8. none of the ans so far address the full ans to “how is it possible … [that he was] killed in a vicious fight”
    few vicious fights lead to death of one of the anticipants.
    without a post mortum autopsy report we are reduced to guessing. unless there is a clever clue in the date (famous dual at the end of that year? historians, an idea please?) or the phrasing of the question somehow allows the deducing of the cause of death.

    1. Or maybe it was the knife sticking out of his chest, as a final testament to his habit of being deliberately obtuse.

    2. not sure how you deduce that conclusion, mervulon. a stab wound is certainly possible, and so a frontal one is likely. but i cannot see from the clue your reasoning. puzzled.

  9. Joseph Burrus was buried first then died afterwards. There are plenty of good answers that doesn’t try to change the premise. Years are numbered BC if they are before Christ. By omitting the BC in the question, the answer is wrong. Or, if we insist it is right, then the house number answers above are just as valid.

    1. Not to mention the fact that years obviously weren’t numbered BC *at the time*, only retrospectively. Also, the year didn’t start in January back then. “Official” answer is bad for a number of reasons, including that it’s not very creative. I first thought of using the numbers as addresses or plot numbers, then the dateline thing, then the buried-alive thing.

  10. My answers were either i) crossing the international date line or ii) being buried before he died. I think both of those are valid, though Richard’s (corrected) one is too. Shame when puzzles are vague enough to permit so many correct answers.

  11. My two answers were the one given above and house numbers. I don’t see why he has to be buried in a cemetry. He could have just been buried in his own house or his neighbour’s, who he had the fight with.

    I agree with some of the comments above about Friday comments being turned off – much better.

  12. It seems to me that’s a very long time to wait for burial! I prefer that the numbers were times on the 24h clock and the 2 times from different days.

  13. Come on people, they won’t all be epic. The man has to put out one of these a week, 52 a year, you cannot expect them to all be winners. Would you rather he repeat earlier ones? Not me. I appreciate what he is doing and when I come across a bad one, or one there is no way I can solve I just wait till the next week and hope.

  14. My answer was that he was killed on Jan 1 1958 slightly to the east (eg Alaska) of the international date line, and the burial took place slightly to the west of the IDL (eg Siberia)…

  15. I had two possible Solutions:
    A: He was buried alive after a fight at 23:55 and 50 seconds on december 31st 1957 bud lived on for about half a minute. So he died in 1958. But once might argue that the fight did not take place in 1958.

    B: He was buried in 1957 du to an avalanche, an earthquake or some other disaster. But he did not die for he was rescued. A year later however he is killed in a fight. Bad luck!

  16. I had the dateline solution, I wasn’t smart enough to come up with the address solution.
    The B.C. solution is the worst of them though. When did you last see a headstone or a coin marked with a year B.C.?

    On that note I will declare that it is now 1967 B.B. (Bobo the red nosed and green haired Messiah will save humanity with a much needed laugh).

  17. I thought he was buried alive in 1957, survived this and than got into fight with guys who did this to him an got killed in the fight in 1958…

  18. Lots of good answers … two more I thought of are 1) He’s a scam artist who faked his own death in 1957, only to die for real in a vicious fight with his wife who finally tracked him down, and 2) Having failed to save the man from being killed in the fight, Superman grabbed his body and flew counterclockwise around the Earth with it in an attempt to go back in time to a point before the fight started … but being the Man of Steel, not the Man of Brains, he did not realize that even if his plan worked the guy would have suffocated and then his body would have exploded when he was taken outside of the atmosphere.

  19. He was killed at 19:59 on Monday & buried at 19:58 a week later — if a date can omit BC, then a time can omit a colon & I can also be excused from changing in to at 😉

  20. In a vicious fight,the enemy in order to save a bullet,the man was Buried alive in the night of 31st,Dec 1957.after a cold night. the man dead.

  21. While I concede that stating they had to be years would give it away too easily, without in some way defining 1957 and 1958, the valid solutions are almost limitless.
    As previously stated, they could easily refer to house numbers.
    Poorly played, Richard.
    You have set a bar to low to limbo under 😦

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