View Full Version : Ancient Burials

22-08-15, 00:01

Burial (http://www.ancient.eu/burial/) of the dead is the act of placing the corpse of a dead person in a tomb (http://www.ancient.eu/tomb/) constructed for that purpose or in a grave (http://www.ancient.eu/Grave/) dug into the earth. In cultures such as Mesopotamia (http://www.ancient.eu/Mesopotamia/), tombs and graves were cut into the ground in the expectation that the soul of the individual so buried would more easily reach the afterlife which was thought to exist underground. Graves in the cultures of the ancient world were usually marked by a stone bearing the person’s likeness and name or by an elaborate tomb (such as the pyramids (http://www.ancient.eu/pyramids/) of Egypt (http://www.ancient.eu/egypt/) or the tholos tombs of Greece (http://www.ancient.eu/greece/)) or megalithic (http://www.ancient.eu/megalithic/) stone dolmens, passage graves, and cairns such as those found in Scotland (http://www.ancient.eu/scotland/) and Ireland. Whatever kind of grave or tomb was constructed, however, the importance of the proper burial of the dead was emphasized by every ancient culture and the rites accompanying burial were among the most elaborate and significant in many ancient cultures. Burial of the dead in the ground has been traced back over 100,000 years of civilization (http://www.ancient.eu/civilization/) as evidenced by the Grave of Qafzeh in Israel (http://www.ancient.eu/israel/), a group tomb of 15 people buried in a cave along with their tools and other ritual artifacts. The earliest grave uncovered thus far in Europe (http://www.ancient.eu/europe/) is that of the `Red Lady of Wales' which is 29,000 years old.


In many cultures (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture), human corpses (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_body) were usually buried in soil. The roots of burial as a practice reach back into the Middle Palaeolithic and coincide with the appearance of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthal) and Homo sapiens (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_sapiens), in Europe and Africa respectively. As a result, burial grounds are found throughout the world. Through time, mounds of earth (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumulus), temples (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple), and underground caverns were used to store the dead bodies of ancestors (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancestor). In modern times, the custom (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norm_(sociology)) of burying dead people below ground, with a stone marker (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headstone) to indicate the burial place, is used in most cultures (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultures); although other means such as cremation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cremation) are becoming more popular in the West (cremation is the norm in India and mandatory in Japan[citation needed (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citation_needed)]).
Some burial practices are heavily ritualized (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ritual); others are simply practical.