Whoever thought it would be a good idea to bury the dead? When was the first burial? And why have we kept doing it for thousands of years? I'll answer all of these questions below, and more.
In the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia, the first complex city that formed was named Sumer. Actually, As far as we know, it was the first city in the world.
It was formed in approximately 5,000 BCE by the surrounding nomads nestled between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, who later became know as the Sumerians. After learning how to cultivate crops and domesticate animals, their cities grew and population boomed.
The Sumerians believed the afterlife was a dark and dreary underworld, literally. Much like the Greeks idea of Hades and Hell, except a few thousand years before the Greeks ideology took root.
Archaeologists have found burial sites in Sumer dating back as far as the city itself does. Their findings indicate that they didn't only bury people either. They also found food, tools, and even animals in the tombs.
Its believed that they initially started to bury the dead so that their spirit would have an easier time getting to the underworld. For the middle class citizens, their dead were buried under or near the family house.
Very few practiced cremation because they believed that once a body was cremated, their soul went to be with the Gods above in Heaven, and obviously human souls don't belong there. They belonged in the earth, so they could go to the underworld with all the other human souls. Go figure.
2000 years later, around 3,000 BCE, The Egyptians decided to take burial a step further.
Actually, quite a few steps. 203 to be exact. The pyramid of Giza was built with 2.5 million blocks of limestone, and has an overall whopping volume of 90,000,000 cubic feet.
Now that's a burial!
Its still a mystery today how an ancient civilization so limited in resources and technology pulled off a feat that still baffles modern engineers.
They were built by the Pharaoh Kuhfu, to serve as his and his families royal tomb.
Since the Egyptians believed their Pharaoh was a God of unearthly proportions, it makes sense as to why they would want his spirit directed straight up into the sky, and not buried deep underground, referring back to old Mesopotamian religious beliefs.
Eventually, maybe someday burials will become obsolete. As society recedes from its roots and traditions entrenched in religion, we may begin to lose the deep reverence and respect for the dead we've garnered for millenniums.
I hope to never see that day, but there's no telling what the future holds for us.
Ancient Encyclopedia History- https://www.ancient.eu/burial/
Wikipedia Burial- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burial
Intro. and Overview of Giza- http://www.gizapyramid.com/overview.htm
The Great Pyramid of Giza- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pyramid_of_Giza
Hi, I'm Michael from ArcLight. I've been writing casually for 5 years now, including writing and directing several theatrical plays produced in my hometown. I've been working for ArcLight for a little over a year and couldn't be happier. I love facts, history, science and writing. This blog will explain the ins and outs of the company, the industry, and even the folk-lore behind burials and cemeteries.