cremation


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cremation,

disposal of a corpse by fire. It is an ancient and widespread practice, second only to burialburial,
disposal of a corpse in a grave or tomb. The first evidence of deliberate burial was found in European caves of the Paleolithic period. Prehistoric discoveries include both individual and communal burials, the latter indicating that pits or ossuaries were unsealed for
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. It has been found among the tribes of the Pacific Northwest, among Northern Athapascan bands in Alaska, and among Canadian cultural groups. It was noted in Greece as early as 1000 B.C. and was the predominant mode of corpse disposal by the time of Homer. Until the advent of Christianity as the dominant religion in the Roman empire, cremation was widely accepted.

The practice of cremation in the West gained new favor with the rise of large cities and the realization of the health hazard associated with crowded cemeteries. In the late 19th cent., the practice was legalized in several European countries and the first crematory in the United States was built. The practice is widely accepted in many Western countries today, although it is not as common in the United States.

The use of cremation is often related to a belief in the properties of fire as a purifying agent. Its object may also be to light the way of the deceased to another world, or to prevent the return of the dead. More practical considerations include the fear of depredation by enemies and, in the modern world, the physical shortage of land in urban areas.

The earliest known method of cremation was the log pyre. In more elaborate practices, pitch and gums are added to the wood. Modern crematories expose the corpse not to flames, but to intense heat that reduces the body (except for some bones, which are crushed) to ashes. Disposal of the ashes varies in different parts of the world. Hindus, for whom cremation is the typical form of disposal, place them in urns or put them in a river, preferably the sacred Ganges. Other methods include burial, scattering, or preservation in a decorative urn. Concerns about the release into the air of mercury from dental fillings has led to the need for emission filtration systems at crematories; alternative methods for the disposal of a corpse, such as alkaline hydrolysis (in which the body tissues, except for bone, are dissolved), also have been developed in response.

See also sutteesuttee
[Skt. sati=faithful wife], former Indian funeral practice in which the widow immolated herself on her husband's funeral pyre. The practice of killing a favorite wife on her husband's grave has been found in many parts of the world; it was followed by such peoples
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.

Bibliography

For bibliography see funeral customsfuneral customs,
rituals surrounding the death of a human being and the subsequent disposition of the corpse. Such rites may serve to mark the passage of a person from life into death, to secure the welfare of the dead, to comfort the living, and to protect the living from the
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.

Cremation

 

the burning of corpses in special furnaces, a type of funeral.

The practice of burning corpses began in the late Neolithic and early Bronze ages. The burning of corpses on bonfires was widespread among the Greeks, Romans, and some other ancient peoples; the ancient Slavs also practiced it. Cremation has also been practiced in Japan since ancient times, as it has in India and other countries of Southeast Asia, primarily where Buddhism and Hinduism are preached. With the spread of Christianity, especially in the European countries, where it became the dominant religion, cremation was forbidden, since Christianity considered it a heathen ritual that contradicted the Christian doctrine of a “life after death” and “the resurrection from the dead.” Only in the second half of the 19th century did the burning of corpses begin again in European countries. Special furnaces were designed for cremation, in which burning proceeded in a jet of extremely hot air (up to 1000°C), the first crematories were built (Milan in 1876, London in 1885, Stockholm in 1887), and requirements for cremation were developed.

The advantage of cremation over the other methods of disposing of corpses lies in the complete and rapid (1–1.5 hours) destruction of the corpse’s organic substances under rigorously hygienic conditions. In the USSR cremation was sanctioned by a decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR of Dec. 7, 1918. Beginning in the 1920’s and 1930’s cremation came into wide use in many countries. After cremation, the ashes are placed in an urn and are stored in columbaria or are buried in the ground.

References in periodicals archive ?
The Bill takes forward the recommendations from the Infant Cremation Commission chaired by Lord Bonomy, which was set up following historical concerns about the handling and disposal of infant remains at Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh.
7 percent) selected cremation as an alternative to burial.
Last month an investigation into infant cremations at the Emstrey Crematorium in Shrewsbury found that ashes were not recovered in more than 50 cases.
Some intellectuals were drawn to cremation for materialist reasons, arguing that reducing a body to ash in less than hour was more sanitary and a better use of resources than letting it slowly decompose in the ground.
One of the suggestions was that the teeth should be removed from the corpses before the cremation but the campaigners are aware that this option might bring about ethical issues.
A spokesman for Edinburgh Council said yesterday: "We have been contacted by the National Cremation Investigation team regarding 11 new cases they are looking into and we are providing any information that they require.
For cremation to take place, a certain process would need to be completed to ensure that the remains are not disposed of prior to the conclusion of any investigation.
Coun John Harrison, cabinet member responsible for the service, said: "It's so important that families and friends receive the very best care when arranging the funeral or cremation of a loved one.
She most recently served as Director of Cremation Services for the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA), where she spearheaded new cremation programs in addition to expanding existing educational offerings for more than four years.
Dale, who was the regional manager for the co-op and worked for Relph Funeral Service in Middlesbrough, said: "This service was created after 27 years of experience showed me that there are many people who want a very simple cremation service, not requiring the full facilities offered by traditional funeral homes.
45 am, the Medanta ambulance left the area and another one from Ayushman Hospital arrived to carry the body to the cremation ground in Dwarka's Sector- 24, run by the New Indian Education and Cultural Society.