Development of Ancient Greek Burial Customs - Essay Example

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Development of ancient Greek burial customs Veneration of the dead has been a characteristic symbol of nearly all civilizations. It has been typical for the dead to be entombed so that the tomb or grave could be revisited for paying respect. Man has always been afraid of death and dying and the development of religion has placed great emphasis on how the dead should be buried…
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Development of Ancient Greek Burial Customs
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Download file to see previous pages While certain cultures developed deep veneration such as worshipping one’s ancestors, other cultures developed more simple attitudes such as leaving the dead to the mercy of the elements. In this sense, the burial rites and their evolution in ancient Greece was of importance since Greece is considered as the pinnacle of the earliest ancient civilizations. Burial rites underwent major transformations in ancient Greece as the civilization moved from one period to another. The practices revolved around inhumation, cremation, leaving offerings, buildings graves and tombs. Various periods had various characteristics that defined burial rites. This paper will explore the various ideas and attitudes in regards to Greek burial rites, rituals and customs that evolved over the years. The practice of burying the dead existed in ancient Greece early on and there were little changes in the basic practices. The earliest burials in Greece can be traced back to the Mycenaean period. The Mycenaean culture tended to bury the dead along with his possessions and there is some evidence to indicate that graves were being reused. The Mycenaean burial tradition is special since a connection to the dead person was always maintained. Graves typically had an altar and a funnel like structure that extended into the grave. These funnels were used to pour libations into the graves (Stevanovic 40). Inhumation was the dominant practice but there is evidence to suggest cremation as well. The dead were cremated so that their souls could leave the body easily and immediately. In addition, cremation was carried out so that the ghost of the dead would not disturb the relatives. The cremated remains were typically entrusted to an amphora that was then buried as a regular body would be buried. This method of burial was practiced just before the Bronze Age. Greek burial practices differed widely from previous ones in the Bronze Age. Previously both adults and children had been cremated or had been alternatively buried as per the dominant cultural trend. However, in the Bronze age it was common that the adults would be cremated while the children would be buried. The only common feature in these burials was that both were inhumed either in pit graves or in chamber tombs as per social status. It was typically to bury items of personal possession as well as items related to daily use. An exploration of graves and tombs from the Bronze Age in Greece has revealed that burial areas contained utensils, cooking pots, oil flasks, jewelry and in a few cases weapons. It is believed that the weapons have been removed from the graves of adult warriors. In certain cases, offerings of food and drinks were also buried with the dead, perhaps with the view that the dead may require this for his journey into the afterlife. It must be noted that graves from this period did not contain the funnel like structures from the previous periods and libation into the grave was not possible. Additionally, since the buried person was already cremated, there was little possibility that libation could be poured into the amphora. As the Greek civilization progressed from simple religious structures to more complicated ones, the manner of burial evolved with it. Compared to the earliest times, the Greeks had begun to distinguish between adults and childr ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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