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EGYPT  2,500BC

The great pyramids and tombs with the treasures buried deep in their interiors are the first glimpses we have of ancient funeral practice. Proper disposition of the dead by embalming, mummification and other processes was a highly developed art in this era. The coffin was important in Egyptian funerals.

 

GREEKS

1,600 BC - Golden Age of Mycena

to

529 AD - Closing of the University of Athens

 

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ARCHITECTURAL MEMORIALS

TOMBS

  

Reverence of the dead permeates the burial customs of the Greeks. Funeral processions brought the bodies to the tombs.

 

ROMANS

753 B.C. - 476 A.D.

 

EARLY BURIAL RESTRICTIONS

12

3

  1. Embalming was done to preserve the body only for the time it was to lie in state
  2. Great roads outside of the city were lined with elaborate tombs
  3. Columbarium. Vigna Codini

Burial within the walls of the city was prohibited for sanitation reasons.

 

ORIGIN OF WESTERN FUNERAL PRACTICES

JUDEAO - CHRISTIAN BELIEFS

 Hebrew

Left - Body was washed, anointed, then wrapped in linen with spices by the family or women of the church. The burial was held on the same day.

Right - Interment for the poor was in shallow trenches, the wealthy in natural caves or artificial sepulchers hewn out of rock. Tombs were unadorned and without inscription.

  Early Christian

Left - After the administration of the viaticum; the body was prepared by the family. Eyes were closed, body washed, limbs straightened and swathed in linen with spices. For the wake, canon low decreed: body laid out with lights beside it, with holy water, and the cross placed in folded hands on breast.

Right - The word "cemetery" designated to the early Christian a place of "sleep" with brethren awaiting the resurrection. Thus, burial in community sacred ground became the custom.

 

 

   

DEVELOPMENT IN ENGLISH FUNERAL PRACTICES

1546 - 1900

 

Pageantry and Splendor In Funerals Reached It's Peak During This Era.

    By 1698, the enormous expense for a family to own all the trappings and equipment necessary for a typical funeral brought into being the "undertaker" who furnished these. (Original meaning of undertaker was the same as underwriter, "one who provides financial backing for an enterprise.")

    Embalming was still the prerogative of surgeons and anatomists. Early in the 17th century, the Guild of Barber - Surgeons took over embalming duties in England.

    By 1900, undertaking emerged as a specific trade. It had gathered functions formerly scattered over several trades into a unified single occupational task. While outside the authority of the church, it cooperated with and retained church customs.

 

 

EVOLUTION OF THE BURIAL RECEPTACLE

From Coffin to Casket

 

 

 

 

 

EVOLUTION OF THE HEARSE

 

 The funeral procession is the oldest of all "parades" and "processions." The hearse beginning as a functional unit, gradually became a highly ornamented vehicle and then slowly returned to the practical funeral vehicle of today.