BURIAL CUSTOMS. In the south and east of Asia, the modes of disposing of their dead are almost as varied as are the races themselves. It has been remarked that the mode of disposing of the dead has from the earliest times been symbolo matic of the opinions as to the worth of the de ceased while he was amongst them, or indicative of their views as to the future condition of the departed. In general there has been little display over the remains of women ; but whether with men or women, the prevailing habit has been to convey the remains to some quiet resting-place with a decorous solemnity, and there erect some lasting memorial over them. With some races, however, even to the present day, the departure of a friend or relative is regarded joyfully, and the procession to the place of final disposal is mirth ful; while other races even cast out their dead, and allow the remains to be treated with indignity. But the anxiety of the generality of nations has been to perpetuate the memory of the departed ; and everywhere are to be seen sepulchral monu ments raised with that object. Many of these exist from prehistoric times, and often form the sole remaining history of the races who erected them. At the present day, monuments erected with brick or stone, and in the form of pillars or upright or horizontal slabs of stone, or cupolas, or domes, or sarcophagi, beneath which the re mains are laid, are usual modes of marking the deceased's resting-place. But in more primitive times, the cairn or heap of stones, the monolith, the cromlech, the circle, the heaped-up barrow of the Celtic tribes, the tumulus, as the Romans called it, were usually resorted to, and many of these are to be seen in the south and east of Asia.
The cairn was formed of stones gathered from the vicinity, and set round about the resting-place of the dead and piled over them ; and this is all that is given to the Mahomedan pilgrim who falls iu the desert. The monolith or single stone was usually placed perpendicularly near the spot. The cromlech, consisting of two, three, or more upright stones, with a flat stone placed over them, formed a sepulchral chamber, and was the earliest approach to the cupola or dome.
The circle, or enclosure of upright stones set singly at varying spaces apart, are found sur rounding the cromlech or cairn. The barrow, or tumulus, often raised to a considerable height, and covering a large area, is the most noble, and has been the most enduring ; and with these the bodies of the departed were not interred in graves sunk below the surface, but were placed on the surface of the ground, and then the earth was heaped up. The barrows, many of which have been opened, are found sometimes to contain skeletons, in other cases urns only, while occa sionally both urns and skeletons, or urns and ashes, appear together. The urns are often found to contain burnt bones and relics; but in the earliest barrows are war weapons, such as stone hatchets and hammers, celts of the same material, both arrow-heads and spear-heads of flint, with beads of various substances, and torques or collars and armlets of gold or bronze. Somewhat liter, the celts and weapons are of bronze, and the sword is found to have been broken, indicative that the warrior's race had been run. The orna ments remain the same, and coins are found.
The methods adopted for the disposal of the dead from the most ancient times have been interment, burning, embalming, launching into rivers, and exposure. Of all these the first seems to have been the most general and primitive. Cremation is undoubtedly very ancient, for king Saul was burnt, and his bones afterwards buried ; and Asa was burnt in the bed which he made for himself, filled with sweet odours and various kinds of spices. In Egypt the practice of embalming obtained from their earliest history, but the practice was confined to that country, and arose from its people holding it unlawful to expose the remains to tire or animals, or to permit them to become a prey to worms. The vast catacombs still remaining on the banks of the Nile were the common receptacle for the general population who could not afford a separate tomb.