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which do not constitute a health risk, may be buried or interred in memorial sites or cemeteries, or they may be retained by relatives and dispersed in various ways.
Cremation is an alternative in place of burial or other forms of disposal in funeral practices.
Cultural groups had their own preferences and prohibitions.
The ancient Egyptians developed an intricate transmigration of soul theology, which prohibited cremation. The Babylonians, according to Herodotus, embalmed their dead.
The custom became dominant throughout Bronze Age Europe with the Urnfield culture (from c. In the Iron Age, inhumation again becomes more common, but cremation persisted in the Villanovan culture and elsewhere.
Homer's account of Patroclus' burial describes cremation with subsequent burial in a tumulus, similar to Urnfield burials, and qualifying as the earliest description of cremation rites.
The rise of Christianity saw an end to cremation, being influenced by its roots in Judaism, the belief in the resurrection of the body, and following the example of Christ's burial.
The organized movement to reinstate cremation as a viable method for body disposal began in the 1870s.
In Europe, there are traces of cremation dating to the Early Bronze Age (c.
2000 BCE) in the Pannonian Plain and along the middle Danube.
These ashes were usually thereafter deposited in a vessel of clay or bronze in an "urn cemetery".
The custom again died out with the Christian conversion of the Anglo-Saxons or Early English during the 7th century, when Christian burial became general.
1900 BCE), considered the formative stage of Vedic civilization.