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The History of Cremations January 17, 2019

Cremation traces its history back to the Stone age but perhaps has never been more popular than today. What role has cremation played in the history of final services and why is it so popular now? You may be surprised to learn that in the West, the popularity of cremation is a relatively recent event. Here is a quick history of cremation.

Earliest Signs of Cremation

Artifacts trace the early history of cremation to the Stone Age, about 3,000 B.C. In the Near East and in Europe. In the Bronze Age from 2,500 to 1,000 B.C., its popularity moved into more areas of Europe and Western Russia. By 1,000 B.C., it had moved throughout most of present day Europe from England and Ireland down through Spain, Italy, and Greece. Around 500 B.C. It had become so popular in Rome that cremations within the city had to be limited.

Early Christian Times

While cremation was exceedingly popular in the early Christian times, it was not embraced by Jewish people or early Christians. In fact, during Constantine’s Christianization of the Roman Empire around 400 AD, cremation was almost totally replaced by burial. Except during plagues and war, cremation fell out of favor for about the next 1,500 years.

Modern Day Cremations

It wasn’t until 1873 that cremation began to see an increase in popularity after an Italian professor perfected a chamber that could effectively cremate bodies. The first Cremation Society of England was formed in 1874. North American cremations started to become more popular with the first crematorium being built in Washington, PA in 1876. The shift to cremations was pushed forward by Protestant Reformation and due to the early health concerns surrounding cemeteries. The second American crematorium was opened in 1886 in Lancaster, PA and it too was operated by a cremation society. By the year 1900, the number of crematories in the United States rose to 20 and by 1913 increased to 52. By that time, cremations had risen to over 100,000 per year. By the year 2000, there were about 1,500 crematories in the country.

Cremations Today

Today, once again cremations have become the most popular form of final services. They continue to grow in popularity. This is in part due to less religious restraints on the process. It is also because cremation is more cost effective than a traditional service and burial. Many prefer it because it is viewed as a more green, environmentally responsible way to dispose of a body.

The Cremation Society of Greater Cincinnati operates the only locally owned crematory in the Cincinnati area. Our modern facility allows the flexibility for a variety of final services including catering.

If you would like more information about cremations or the Cremation Society of Cincinnati, we encourage you to contact us. We can help address a current need or assist you in pre-planning your final services. We would be honored to serve you.

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