3rd millennium BC, Mesopotamia
The custom of burying the dead by burning dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. Cremation is considered to have been initiated by the Sumerian clergy of Mesopotamia. At that time, it was believed that the soul of the deceased was freed from the body, purified and immortalised through fire. Later, the Sumerian method of cremation spread to other Asian countries and to Africa. Many ancient peoples (Assyrians, Babylonians, Jews) burnt the dead on stakes in special ceremonies.
13th century BC, Europe
In Central Europe, the burning of remains dates back to the 13th century BC. Later, it spread to Western Europe. Ceremonial cremation of remains was also common in Ancient Greece, Rome, Slavic tribes, Japan, India and other countries in Southeast Asia.
- 1873. Beginning of modern cremation
1873. Beginning of modern cremationJanuary 1, 1873
Modern cremation can be considered to have originated at the end of the 14th century. After years of experimentation and refinement of the technology, the first modern cremation furnace was presented by Italian Professor Ludovico Brunetti at the Vienna Science Exhibition in 1873. Soon after, cremation movements began to gain popularity on both sides of the Atlantic.
- 1876, USA
1876, USAJanuary 1, 1876
In North America, cremation began in 1876, when Dr Julius Lemoine opened the first crematorium in the nation’s capital, Washington DC. Since then, the popularity of cremation as a method of burial in the United States of America (USA) has grown rapidly. This has been influenced by the Protestant Church’s decision to change the burial ceremony habits. The sanitary condition of cemeteries in the country was a major concern at the time.
- 1913. American Cremation Association
1913. American Cremation AssociationJanuary 1, 1913
In 1913, the American Cremation Association was founded in the USA, with 52 crematoria across the country.
- 1984 m. England
1984 m. EnglandJanuary 1, 1984
Queen Victoria’s surgeon, Henry Thomson, made a significant contribution to the rise in popularity of cremation in the British Isles, including the founding of the official English Cremation Society in 1874. The first crematoria were soon established in Europe. As early as 1878, crematoria opened their doors for the first time on the old continent in Woking (England) and Gotha (Germany).
- 2000 – 2020: the rise in popularity of cremation
2000 – 2020: the rise in popularity of cremationJanuary 1, 2000
Today, cremation is one of the most popular methods of burial worldwide. According to a study carried out between 2019 and 2020, as many as 54.6% of all remains of the deceased in the USA were cremated. In Germany, the figure was 69%, and in Sweden it was 83%.
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