Learn the History of Cremation Urns

What is a cremation urn and how does it fit into history?

Traditional burials use the casket just as cremations use the urn. Both hold the remains of a loved one, and we can display both at a funeral or memorial service. But what is a cremation urn? Despite cremation gaining popularity in recent years, it might surprise you to find out that the use of urns might go further back than the practice of cremation itself.

With evidence to support that cremations may have begun in the early Stone Age in 3000 BC, evidence of containing remains in an urn can be found thousands of years earlier. Pottery urns dating from about 7000 BC have been found in China, containing remains. 

The history of cremation as we know it began in Europe and the Far East, with evidence from informative finds in western Russia among the Slavic people. Artefacts found in these areas include pottery cremations urns, which were not overly ornate. They used urns after cremation to show respect to the deceased.

As the practice of cremation spread through Europe and even North America, so had the use of cremation urns. A discovery in England found an urn burial site dated from the Bronze Age. By 1000 BC, cremations had become customary in Greece, and the Greeks used to perform elaborate burial practices where urns were used. 

During the Roman Empire, they saw cremation as the most hygienic type of funeral. They then placed the urns then in a columbarium which were often partly or completely underground. Cremation remained a widely used practice for hundreds of years, but the early Christians considered it pagan and the Jewish culture preferred traditional sepulchre entombment.

Modern cremation can point to Italy in the late 1800s as its starting point, and with its relative rise in North America in 1913, the demand for cremation urns rose. That same sentiment remains now just as it did 100 years ago, with people wanting a dependable and suitable urn for their loved one.

We can make urns today from many materials, including ceramic, marble, bronze, wood, brass, stainless steel, or glass. Different shapes, styles and sizes exist, and remains can even be kept in jewelry. 

Whereas the specific practices of cremation have changed through the years, one thing is still the same: Simply Cremation & Funeral Care is available to assist you. Our mission is to offer excellence in our service while providing the compassion, sincerity & understanding needed by families we serve.