DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD AMONG THE ANCIENTS AND AMONG UNCIVILIZED TRIBES. Of the two methods employed by civilized nations. crema tion and burial. the former is the one originally prevalent among the Indo-European races. The graves of North Europe, throughout the Bronze Age, contain, not skeletons, but only urns for the reception of funeral ashes. The Egyptians, on the other hand, embalmed their dead: the Jews laid them away in sepulchres: and the ancient as well as the modern Chinese buried them in the earth. The Chinese, influenced by religious doctrine. now, as of old, insist on properly placed graves in their own land, and for this rea son corpses are sent home from California. They do not have cemeteries specially set apart for the burial of the dead, hut may bury them anywhere, and the frequent occurrence of these hallowed spots. which may not be desecrated. has proved a serious obstacle to railway projects. The dry, hot climate of Egypt made the embalming proc ess possible, and the scarcity of fuel made it less expensive than burning. The same natural cause, lack of fuel, may have led to the practice of burial among the Jews and other tribes. Among the ancient Persians the bodies of the dead were exposed to the elements, as is the practice of the modern Parsis, or followers of Zoroaster. It is, however, probable that in some instances, especially in the case of kings, burial with a coating of wax was allowed. Many of the early American Indians burned their dead and dis posed of their ashes in various ways, while the ancient Greeks practiced both cremation and burial. the former being introduced by the
Phrygians, and burial by the Egyptians. Among the Romans, cremation was the general practice during the latter days of the Republic and through four centuries of the Empire. See BuRIAL for a description of burial practices or ancient nations.
While natural causes, undoubtedly, had a great influence in determining the method of dis posal, especially in very early tines, religious belief in the resurrection of the physical man has usually been the chief factor which has caused the spread of the custom of interment rather than the more sanitary method of dis-' posal by fire. The Egyptians, Jews, Moham medans, and Christians all believe more or less fully in the physical resurrection of the body; and the question arises, whether cremation does not impair the prospect of a future life. With the spread of Christianity, burial was substituted for cremation, both in the heart of the Poman Empire and among the converted pagans on its outskirts.
Cremation was once common in England, and was hut slowly supplanted by inhumation. The same is true of the Gallic and Germanic races. It is said that. Charlemagne, in his zeal for Christian burial, punished the act of cremation with the death penalty. Cremation is still prac ticed in India and among some other Oriental nations. In Japan the Shinto sect practices burial and the Monto sect cremation.