History of Cremation
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Cremation has been practiced by mankind from prehistoric times. Archaeologists have found proof that people in China used to cremate their dead as early as in 8000 BC. Also, in ancient Greece, cremation was practiced in some parts, but the ritual did become that prevalent and disappeared by the year 480 BC. All through the Iron Age as well as the Viking Age, most of the deceased in Sweden were cremated. However, this practice stopped once the Swedes embraced Christianity by the year 1050 AD.
In the entire western part of the Roman Empire, cremation was the norm right until 1st century AD and was often accorded to military personnel. However, once Christianity made its appearance, cremation was looked down upon and the practice more or less disappeared from most of Europe by 5th century AD. The practice was only followed in case of war or epidemics.
At the time of the French Revolution, some groups like the anarchists, revolutionaries as Freemasons encouraged the practice to lessen the Church's influence on the entire process of funeral. This was one of the reasons why the Vatican was against the practice right till the 20th century. In Asia, cremation became widespread in China and Korea which were ruled by Buddhist kings, and this practice was followed in these countries right till 1300 AD. However, after that neo-Confucianism became popular and burials were considered to be the right way to lay the remains of the deceased to rest. In India, cremation was part of Hinduism, a practice that is followed even today.
A cremation chamber was invented in the 1800s by Professor Brunetti and Sir Henry Thompson, who was the surgeon of Queen Victoria, was very much for it. Hence, cremation became the norm in England as the people were worried about their health and hygiene. Slowly, this led to cremation being practiced in other parts of Europe. The first modern-day crematorium was established in the year 1876 in Pennsylvania and this brought cremation to America. The high cost of burials in present-day America is slowly forcing people to move towards cremation.
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