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Ancient Cultures and Cremation? – From Ireland to Australia

Cremation appears as a popularly practiced funeral rite in many ancient cultures going back thousands of years. From the Ancient Greeks to the Ancient Irish. There is speculation that the practice of cremation could date back over 40,000 years. There is evidence of it being practiced in Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Europe.

The Ancient Greeks practiced cremation as early as 1000 BC. Cremation is mentioned in the epic poem the Iliad. The later Romans continued the practice of cremation observed by the Greeks and cremation is also mentioned in Virgil’s Aeneid. It eventually became seen as a status symbol of wealth and position among the Romans.

Cremation in ancient times was also heavily practiced outside of Europe. Hindus in India believed that being cremated and having their remains scattered on the Ganges River was a sacred rite. A similar rite, practiced in Bali, saw the deceased bodies carried to a tower made of bamboo and burned, the cremains then scattered on the water. Some of these rites and traditions still exist and are practiced by communities in these countries.

Cremation then is as old as civilization itself. As long as humans have had the knowledge of fire and a need to honor the deceased cremation practices have existed.

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