History of Cremation

History of Cremation

When Did Cremation Start?

For centuries, cremation has been a common method of disposition in many different countries and cultures around the world. In fact, according to Wikipedia (2018), cremation could date back as far as 20,000 years ago. In Europe and other parts of the world, there is evidence of cremation occurring around 2000 B.C. Many scholars believe that this is when it became a common practice for many cultures throughout Europe.

Over time, the popularity of cremation began to fade. Cremation began regaining popularity around the late 1800’s. According to the Cremation Association of North America (2018), the first crematory was built in the United States in 1876. By 1913, there were 52 crematories across North America and more than 10,000 cremations occurring annually. Cremation rates continued to rise, with cremation now exceeding burial in Maryland.



Origin of Cremation

As stated above, cremation has been around for a very long time. Here are some other interesting cremation facts:

  • Cremation was commonly adopted in some parts of Greece but never became widespread, disappearing by 480 B.C.
  • In Sweden, the majority of funerals were cremations throughout the Iron Age and Viking Age, but stopped once Christianity was introduced (A.D. 1050).
  • In the western Roman empire, cremation was the standard burial practice until the first century A.D., often associated with military honors.
  • During the French Revolution, certain groups promoted cremation as a way of reducing the church's role in the funeral process. Partly because of this association, the Roman Catholic Church opposed the use of cremation until the 20th century.
  • In Asia, cremation became popular in areas of Buddhist influence under certain dynasties in China and Korea until about A.D. 1300.
  • Modern cremation services began in the late 1800s with the invention of a practical cremation chamber by Professor Brunetti, who presented it at the 1873 Vienna Exposition.
  • Championed by Queen Victoria's surgeon, Sir Henry Thompson, and driven by public concern for hygiene and health and clerical desires to reform burial practices, crematories slowly began opening in Europe and abroad.
  • The first modern crematory in America was established in Pennsylvania in 1876.

Today, cremation is practiced in at least 31 countries around the world, with rates ranging from less than 2 percent in Ghana to more than three-quarters of the deaths in Switzerland. Cremation rates in the United States approach 80% in some areas.

We know these facts regarding the history and origin of cremation are interesting, however, if you're still unsure if cremation is right for you and your family we invite you to contact us A conversation with a Simplicity Cremation & Funeral Services professional will help you truly understand if cremation is the right option for you and your loved one. So call us at (410) 777-5295, we’re here to give you all the information required to successfully make your cremation decision.

Cremation Association of North America. (2018). History of Cremation.
Wikipedia. (2018).

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