Brief History of Cremation Urns
People’s opinions and attitudes about cremation and cremation urns vary. Some choose to house a loved one’s remains in specific containers above ground at home or in niches while others prefer placement in coffins in the ground or in a tomb. Whatever your thoughts are about it, everyone can agree that the ashes must be stored or housed in some way that not only honors the dearly departed but also suits the how the family members want to lay their loved ones to rest.
Cremation is one of the longest standing processes. It and the memorial traditions surrounding it have stood the test of time. Some educators suggest that cremation probably began in earnest during the early Stone Age around 3000 B.C. and most likely originated in Europe or the Near East.
Urns which can be either temporary or permanent containers for the body reflect so much more than the death of a love one. They also reveal the cultural values and beliefs of the societies that have used them.
Here are a few historic facts about cremation urns:
Stone Age – Cremation began to spread across northern Europe, as reported based upon decorative pottery urn finds in western Russia.
Bronze Age – 2500 to 1000 B.C. — Cremation moved into the British Isles and into what is now Spain and Portugal. Cemeteries for cremation developed in Hungary and northern Italy, spreading to northern Europe and even Ireland.
Mycenaean Age — circa 1000 B.C. — Cremation became an integral part of the elaborate Grecian burial custom. In fact, it became the dominant mode of disposition by the time of Homer in 800 B.C. and was actually encouraged for reasons of health and expedient burial of slain warriors in this battle-ravaged country.
Modern cremation, as known today, began just over a century ago in Italy with the development of a dependable chamber. The first modern North American crematory was built in 1876 in Washington, Pennsylvania. Cremations urns can now be composed of glass, wood, metal or any other substances shaped like vessels, bird baths, book ends and more.
The Largest Urn: The largest urn in recorded history actually belonged to President Kennedy. It was used to store more than the nine hundred cubic inches of ashes of his beloved horse ZhaZha.