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Ancient Death Rituals

One unavoidable similarity in all cultures is the presence of a set of practices associated with the care and disposition of human bodies after death. Whether a particular society is religious or secular, all must deal with the inevitably of death, and with surprising consistency throughout history, the transition to death and the subsequent disposition of human bodies have been accompanied by solemn and sacred funerary rituals. Ancient Death Rituals research papers have been written by anthropology experts. We can produce a custom written project that follows your guidelines.

Ancient Death Rituals

Ancient Death Rituals and Culture

Although the presence of such funerary rituals has been consistent throughout history, the actual nature and characteristics of these practices have varied significantly from culture to culture. Researchers assert that the death rituals of a certain society can reveal a great deal about the values and beliefs of that milieu. Even within a particular culture, funerary practices often evolve and develop over time, resulting in significant differences between historical periods. This paper will present an overview of the following elements:

  • The salient characteristics and significance of the death rituals and funerary practices
  • Death rituals that were prevalent in the prehistoric cultures
  • The death rituals of ancient cultures of the world  

Even prior to the advent of recorded history, scientists have been able to discern the use of death rituals and sacred funerary practices dating as far back as the Paleolithic Era. Using the archaeological record of artifacts found at ancient burial sites, it is clear that Neanderthals and similar groups carefully arranged the position and appearance of dead bodies, often bedecking the burial site with both utilitarian and decorative items, including beads, preserved foods, weaponry, and other related supplies for daily living.

From the presence of these objects at Paleolithic burial sites, archaeologists have inferred that these early peoples most likely believed in some form of afterlife, and that their funerary practices served as a kind of preparation for the transitional journey to a new existence, where even in death, such necessities were required. Similar beliefs have informed the death rituals of many cultures throughout history.   

Ancient Death Ritual Funeral

Ancient Death Rituals From Fear


Although today it is universally understood that that which animates the physical body is extinguished at the moment of death, this notion was not introduced into the death rituals of the world until relatively recently, and many of the early death rituals were predicated upon the apparent belief that some form of physical – rather than spiritual or symbolic – life persists after death.

Another set of beliefs that can be inferred from the funerary practices of Paleolithic peoples is a fear of the dead. This, too, has been an important facets of death rituals throughout human history. At some prehistoric burial sites, the corpse has been arranged in a specific way that some researchers have interpreted as a means of inhibiting its freedom of movement. For example, some remains have been discovered with their limbs strongly fastened, such as arms or legs being bound together. From the evidence of this position, some archaeologists have posited that this measure was undertaken to ensure that the corpse could not regain mobility and bring harm to the surviving tribe members.

Related Research Paper Topics

Death in Ancient Greek and Roman Cultures Research Papers discuss the ancient practices of how the dead were taken care of.

Burial Practices for Native Americans Research Papers explore the different tribal practices of funerals.

Sacrificial Death Research Papers deal with the history of the practice and what cultures use it. Order a research paper on sacrificial death and fear.