Over time, remains of deceased have been handled in many ways. The degree of funeral practices depended upon the deceased’s culture, religious or family beliefs and political importance. Remains were often prepared and buried in graves of different magnitudes, such as elaborate tombs or shallow graves of the earth. Historically, cremation urns were often used as a memorial for a loved one or an enemy. Many cultures used burial urns or jars to bury their deceased, containing deceased skeletal remains or ashes.
Burial Urns and Controversy
Researchers believed that cremation, a practice used to assist in burying the deceased, began in the early Stone Age era in Europe. Cremation became more widespread over the following few centuries accumulating countries and cultures all over the world. Christianity nearly put a complete stop to cremation practices with the belief that deceased persons should be traditionally buried. Exceptions were made when necessity arose for health reasons, such as during the period of the black plague. In 1873 Professor Brunetti invented a cremation chamber, once again making cremation a popular choice for funeral techniques.
Cremation in Religious Practice
China was one country reluctant to succumb to the practices of cremation due to their strong beliefs of the afterlife. The Chinese believed in body preservation, adding items of importance to the coffin in order to make the afterlife more comfortable for their ancestors. The Chinese believed the soul stayed close to the body and if left unhappy, the soul could become a dangerous ghost. It wasn’t until later, just before Buddhism was introduced into Chinese culture that the resistance of cremation began to change. Funeral urns containing the ashes Chinese ancestors began being placed in tombs, decorated much like a home and containing items of family importance.
Burial Urns Discovered
In 1876 and further into the 1910’s over 160 urns were discovered at an archaeological dig located at a burial ground in India. The burial urns exposed were made of pottery, illustrating many animals, some with illustrations of gold crowns. In a rare find, there was an appliqué depicting a detailed storyline. These particular urns were buried with several iron and copper objects, arrowheads, axes, and spearheads. Inside, the burial urns contained skeletal remains consistently found in a squatting position, indicating that cremation was not practiced as part of urn burial in this ancient Indian culture.
Personalized Burial Urns
From ancient times to today, personalizing urns has been a significant choice for funerals. Burial urns come in a wide variety of materials and styles made of ceramic, marble, glass, metal, wood, or bronze. Metal or bronze is more often used for urns intended to be buried underground. In modern times, urns continue to be designed to follow religious or family practices. However, there are many varieties to choose from, such as military urns, biker urns, natural urns, traditional urns etc. Smaller burial urns are preferred for children’s ashes and larger urns are intended for more than one person.
For centuries burial urns have been an important part of funeral burial practices in many cultures. Burial urns from ancient ancestors will continue to be uncovered while more modern day cremation practices and personalized urns will allow people to prolong celebrating loved ones memories who passed before us.