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Funeral History #1

Intro to History of Funeral Service

Origin of Word "Funeral" Latin word "Funeralis," which means "torch light procession." Background: Funerals were generally held at night and lit by torches
Western Culture Combination of: Greek aesthetics/philosophy Roman Law Judeo-Christian traditions
Osiris Egyptian god of the underworld, judge of the dead
"Circle of Necessity" The Egyptian religious circuit that the soul was required to complete. Took 3000 years. Embalming was used to preserve the body so the deceased could resume activities in the afterlife. The soul would not foresake the body as long as it was intact.
Dry Burial Egyptians used dry burials to prevent putrefaction & disease. Process: bodies were shrouded in course fabric & placed upon a bed of charcoal, under 6-8 feet of sand. Dry air and nitrous soil provided slow & safe decomp.
Undertaking Specialists Kher-heb: priest/supervisor - the one in charge Surgeon: chief embalmer Scribe: marked the incision Parachistes: made the incision Apothecary: made aromatic powders, oils, etc Pollinctors: anointed body with the oils
Embalming Grades or Classes There were three classes of embalming, varying in attention, time & expenses First Class - for the wealthy, lots of detailed steps & expensive Second Class - less detail & less expensive Third Class - used mostly by the poor, the least expensive
Embalming - First Class Brain & viscera were removed, embalmed & stored in canopic jars. Head & body cavities were washed & stuffed with spices and resins. Body was in soda solution for 40 days, then wrapped in fine linen. Then dipped in gum adhesive & returned to family.
Embalming - Second Class No incisions were made, cedar oil was injected into the body. Body was placed in natron for 70 days. The body was then drained of cedar oil and dissolved soft organs. Ultimately reduced to skin & bones.
Libitina Goddess of corpses and funerals.
Libitinarius Roman lead undertaker, considered direct ancestor of undertaker & modern day funeral director.
Pollictores Roman funeral functionary, sub-category of undertakers. Either slaves or employees of libitinarius, they were responsible for embalming.
Designator Roman funeral functionary, sub-category of undertakers. Master of ceremonies, director of funeral processions.
Praeco Roman funeral functionary, sub-category of undertakers. This "crier" summoned participants to public funerals.
Egyptian Undertaking Specialists Kher-heb Surgeon Scribe Parachistes Apothocary Pollinctors
Kher-heb Egyptian Undertaking Specialist. A priest or supervisor. The one overseeing the process.
Surgeon Egyptian Undertaking Specialist. The chief embalmer.
Scribe Egyptian Undertaking Specialist. Made the mark of incision for embalmer.
Parachistes Egyptian Undertaking Specialist. Made the incision for an embalming.
Apothecary Egyptian Undertaking Specialist. Made aromatic powders and oils.
Pollinctors Egyptian Undertaking Specialist. Anointed the body with oils.
Necropolis Egyptian City of the Dead. Consisted of places of burial such as cemeteries, crypts, tombs; and mortuary temples - the buildings where preparations of the dead took place.
Ancient Greek Death Beliefs/Funeral Customs Death was one of the harshest parts of life. Early Greeks believed that the dead lived a bodily existence under ground. Later, around 700 BC, the dead were believed to be disembodied souls.
Ancient Greek Cremation They are credited with being among the first to cremate the dead. They believed the power of the flame set the soul free.
Greek Funeral Services/Burial Customs Body prepared by family, washed by women in warm water, anointed with oils, spices, perfumes, laid out, dressed in white, viewed by family/friends 1-7 days.
Greek Funeral Services & Procession Procession began an hour before dawn. Body was carried on a bier by family members, friends, or "corpse bearers." There were female mourners, fraternity members, and hired dirge singers. Body was buried or cremated, depending on date in civilization.
Greek Coffins Made of wood, stone, and clay. Generally reserved for wealthy or persons of importance. Body was placed in coffin after being transported to the grave on a bier.
Greek Tombs Four types: stelae, kiones, trapezae, naidia
Stelae Greek Tomb - shafts
Kiones Greek Tomb - columns
Trapezae Greek Tomb - square cut tombs
Naidia Greek Tomb - tombs which resembled temples
Greek Funeral Feast The bereaved family was expected to fast. This meal broke the fast. Sacrifices of food and wine were often offered to the gods, to prevent them from harming the family.
Suttee A custom in which the grieving widow was to join her deceased husband on the funeral pyre. This was to honor the man, and because women's lives were thought to be over when their husbands died.
Roman Funeral Customs Body was washed in warm water, anointed with oils & spices, laid out for 7 days in white toga on a funeral couch, with feet facing entry way. Flowers were placed on couch, incense burned & cypress or pine hung outside. Only preserved for being laid out.
Ancient Roman View of Afterlife Animistic Cult Theory Theory of Epicurians Christian Theology
Animistic Ancient Roman View of Afterlife. The soul was the "vital part;" it hung around the place of burial, requiring family to bring food & drinks. If neglected, an evil spirit may be sent to the family.
Greek Cult Theory Influence Ancient Roman View of Afterlife. The Romans adopted the cult theory of joining god in happiness eternal, or possibly damned to eternal tormented worlds.
Theory of Epicurians Ancient Roman View of Afterlife. Body and soul were composed of atoms, disintegrated at death, and returned to the state the soul was in before-life.
Christianity Theology Influence Ancient Roman View of Afterlife. When Christianity emerged, the Romans adopted a theological view of death. Christians began to develop customs inspired by Christ.
Roman Burial Customs Cremation was common until the 1st century after Christ. Burials took over, as Christians believed the soul was housed in body. Body should be respected, revered, not burned. Extramural burials. Tombs for the wealthy, common plots for poor or common.
Roman Funeral Procession The common & the poor were carried on shoulders of relatives, at night, occasionally with musicians. Wealthy & important people had musicians, singers, day-time processions with torches & eulogies.
Colombaria Great tombs with niches for cremains.
Professional Mourners Women hired to attend ceremonies to publicly display the families grief (Romans were stoic) so the dead didn't feel neglected. They would beat their chests, pull their hair, rip their clothing, call out in sorrow. (Roman & Greek)
Roman Influence of Constantine Constantine was first Emperor of Rome. Endorsed government funded burials for the poor. Prohibited excessive services. Still today, funeral services are one of the countries most highly regulated businesses.
Created by: kellyrb