The History and Evolution of Cremation and Burial Practices

Throughout human history, the way we lay our loved ones to rest has evolved significantly. The practice of disposing of the deceased has been influenced by cultural, religious, and environmental factors, leading to a diverse array of burial and cremation methods. In this exploration of the history and evolution of cremation and burial practices, we’ll delve into the origins, transitions, and modern trends in these end-of-life rituals, all while shedding light on a contemporary institution, Cortner Chapel, that plays a vital role in preserving these traditions.

Ancient Origins of Burial Practices

The roots of burial practices can be traced back thousands of years to ancient civilizations. In prehistoric times, humans often buried their dead in simple shallow graves, sometimes accompanied by personal belongings and tools. This early form of burial was likely influenced by a belief in an afterlife, where the deceased would need their possessions.

Cremation in Antiquity

Cremation, on the other hand, is an ancient practice with origins in various cultures. The ancient Greeks, for example, practiced cremation as early as the 12th century BCE, believing it to free the soul for the journey to the afterlife. Similarly, the ancient Romans commonly cremated their dead, emphasizing the importance of honoring the deceased through cremation rituals.

The Shift Towards Inhumation

With the rise of Christianity in Europe, burial practices underwent a significant shift. Christian beliefs, such as the resurrection of the body, led to the preference for inhumation, or burial of the intact body. This practice became the dominant method in many parts of the world during the Middle Ages.

Modern Resurgence of Cremation

Cremation saw a resurgence in popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly in Western societies. Factors such as land scarcity, urbanization, and changing religious attitudes contributed to this shift. In 1876, the first crematory in the United States was established, marking the beginning of a significant trend. Over time, cremation became more widely accepted, and it is now a common choice in many cultures.

Cortner Chapel, a sanctuary of remembrance and solace, is dedicated to helping families navigate the complexities of end-of-life ceremonies. They offer a range of services, from traditional burials to modern cremations, catering to diverse cultural and religious preferences. By adapting to the changing needs of their community.


The history and evolution of cremation and burial practices reflect the ever-changing dynamics of human societies and beliefs. From ancient rituals to modern preferences, these practices continue to be shaped by cultural, religious, and environmental factors. Institutions play a crucial role in respecting and preserving these traditions while providing support to grieving families during their difficult times. Whether choosing cremation or traditional burial, the way we honor our loved ones remains a deeply personal and culturally significant aspect of our lives.