A Look Back at the History of Cremation

Cremation is a popular choice today, but you may be surprised at just how long a history the practice has. In fact, cremation dates back to the Stone Age, and after an extended period of falling out favor, has become increasingly popular again over the past century. Take a look back at the history of cremation here.

Stone Ages through the Roman Empire

Historians believe that it is likely that cremation began as a practice during the Stone Age, probably in Europe or the Near East. The practice is thought to have spread relatively quickly throughout Northern Europe and the western portion of Russia and then to Greece, the British Isles, Spain, and Portugal during the Bronze Age. In Greece, cremation was encouraged as a means of slowing the spread of disease. In the Roman Empire, with the exception of early Christians, cremation was the preferred method of handling the decreased.

Christianity and the Decline of Cremation

After Constantine Christianized the Roman Empire, cremation fell out of favor. As Christianity spread, the decline in demand for cremation followed. From approximately 400 A.D. until the 1800s, burial was significantly more popular in Europe than cremation, while its popularity increased in other parts of the world. During this period, cremation was only embraced in Europe in response to the outbreak of illness or war.

Modern Cremation

In Europe and North America, cremation began to increase in popularity in the late 1800s. Medical professionals advocated for cremation to reduce the spread of disease and improve public health. Over the next century, the demand for cremation steadily increased. By 2009, over 36% of deaths led to cremations, with projections indicating that over 50% would be dealt with using cremation before 2020.

Roman Catholics and Cremation

According to a 2012 article in The Catholic World Report , “In 1963, the Vatican lifted the cremation ban. Since 1997, cremated remains have been allowed to be present at funeral Masses, and are given the same respect as remains in a casket. Cremated remains must be buried, just like a body, in a cemetery, crypt, or other appropriate burial place. Scattering ashes or keeping them at home is not permitted.” Ask us about the many beautiful Alcove settings we have for placing cremated remains.

Inglewood Park Cemetery is pleased to offer cremation services in the Los Angeles area alongside our other cemetery services. Whether you need help pre-planning your cremation or burial or need assistance planning service for a loved one who has passed, please call us at (310) 412-6500.

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