Burial, a human history, from the first rites to funeral services.

Burial, a human history, from the first rites to funeral services.

The history of humanity is a series of stages: agriculture, sedentarisation, urbanisation, worship, and the burial of the dead.
Paying homage to the dead, giving them special attention, is at the heart of what makes us human. It is this awareness of the limit of our presence on Earth, and the need to associate it with rites.

From prehistoric burials in the Middle East to Egyptian and Greek antiquity.

In a cave in Qafzeh, south of the city of Nazareth, one of the first proofs of this desire to ritualise the departure of a deceased person was found. Among the bodies found, those of a child and a woman have the particularity of having been apparently protected and organised to lie together.

Throughout history, rites have evolved considerably. The best known is that of ancient Egypt. Embalming the body to preserve it was a privilege reserved for rulers and their relatives. The aim was to maintain the body in a state of preservation so that the deceased could enter the afterlife.

For the ancient Greeks, the deceased, before being cremated, was placed in the mouth with an Obolus. The purpose of this coin was to pay Charon, who allowed the soul to cross the River Styx and enter the Underworld (the meaning of which was very different from today’s).

The Roman Pompa Funebris at the funeral pump in Geneva

In Rome, tombs were marked with the phrase “Sic Tibi Terra Levis”, meaning May the Earth be light to you. However, the upper classes of the Roman Empire were given special treatment: the Pompa Funebris, which gives rise to the current term “funeral parlour”. This ceremony consisted of the display of the body for several days before being cremated, accompanied by music, dancing and mourners. A procession accompanied the deceased, and a eulogy was then delivered before the cremation was carried out. For the plebs, there was no pomp and circumstance, and cremation quickly followed the death.

The organisation of the departure of our loved ones is thus similar and different at the same time since Antiquity. For important people, the viewing of the body is still a must, and the eulogy has become a must for everyone.

In Geneva, the funeral directors are at your side to ensure that your loved one’s wishes are perfectly respected in accordance with the regulations and the highest quality standards.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)