Ancient Funeral Rites

By: Matthew Funeral Home
Monday, September 14, 2020

    Humans have found different ways to honor the dead throughout history. Almost every culture had rites for the dead. The first burial site from paleolithic human cultures is estimated to be roughly 50,000 years old. While practices have been modernized with the times, it is intriguing to see how changes to funeral practices have evolved throughout history. 

The First Coffins

    While caskets today are built to be wide, early coffins were built to tightly fit around the bodies. Around 10,000 years ago, the first known coffins were crafted for the dead to be placed in caves. Residue on the coffins suggests that they were decorated and painted ceremoniously. Various trinkets, garments, and food were buried along with the deceased. These coffins were stacked in piles on top of each other. Conceptually, these caves were the precursor to mausoleums, which we still see today. 

Burial Mounds

    Many ancient societies across the globe buried the dead in burial mounds. Burial mounds are raised hills of stone and dirt meant to inter the dead. These artificial hills would be created to house the remains of the dead. Smaller mounds may be used for individuals or families. Larger mounds were able to house remains over generations, or important individuals. Many burial mounds were adorned on the inside with art, and rooms may have contained grains, herbs, and other items. One of the oldest and most famous burial mounds is Newgrange, found in Ireland. It was most likely built around 3200 B.C.E. It predates both Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Cremation

    Cremation is also a fairly ancient practice. Modern methods help ensure the body is converted to ash, but funeral pyres can be traced back as far as 20,000 years, in Australia. Ancient Greece and Rome often used cremation processes, especially for fallen warriors. Both societies also built columbariums, to house and display urns. This practice was also used to help limit the spread of diseases. The rise of Christianity in this region reduced the popularity of this practice. 

Viking warriors are famous for their cremation practices. Fallen Viking warriors were placed on boats. These boats were filled with their possessions, food, and even slain slaves, and set alight on the water.

Body Preservation

    Ancient Egypt is well known for the pyramids, but also their mummies. Mummification was a way to preserve the body, and to reduce the smell of decay. Priests would use natron along with spices, oil, and wine for preservation. Taoist Chinese traditions had families brush the deceased in talc powder for preservation and cleanliness. Modern preservation techniques are used by morticians to ensure that the deceased looks and smells presentable for open-casket funerals.

For over 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.

 

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

Organizations to Notify After A Loved One's Death

When a family member passes away, there can be a number of things that need to be done; in addition to grieving and dealing with your immense loss. One aspect of this is notifying certain organizat...

Preventative Care Tests for Ages 50+

Taking care of yourself, and your health is vital to living a longer, happier life. As you reach an advanced age, it is important to take a few extra steps to ensure that you are on top of potentia...

Seniors: Protecting Your Driving Privileges

    It is common for adults to ask their elderly parents to turn over the car keys. And while there are many reasons why this can be a good practice, this trend can be harmful to eld...

The Ritual Of Funerals

Every family, religion, and culture has its own rituals. Throughout history, humans of all walks of life have created and adapted rituals for all aspects of life. We celebrate birthdays, gather in ...

Traditional Chinese Funeral Customs

Chinese funeral rites are steeped in the deep traditions of filial piety that are a large part of the culture overall. The finer details of a funeral can change based on age, gender, marital status...

Why Making Memories With Your Children Is Important

Spending time with loved ones is important, but making memories that last is even better. By trying to focus on making positive memories with your loved ones, you can make a difference in your life...

Does Meditation Work?

Meditation is often praised as a method for finding balance and serenity. More and more people turn to meditation as a way to find peace in a hectic work-week. Some companies like Google and Apple...

Comfort Food for Grieving Families

When suffering from the loss of a loved one, having a hot, home-cooked meal is probably the last thing on the mind. Thankfully, it is a common practice for friends and family to bring trays of food...

Delivering a Eulogy

When a close family member or friend passes away, the responsibility may fall upon you to give a eulogy. While giving a eulogy is a great way to honor the memory of your loved one, it is no easy ta...

Decorating a Gravesite

When visiting a loved one’s gravesite, it is not uncommon for your family to decorate the plot. There are a number of different ways that you can add to the decor of your loved one’s plot, and pers...