Some People Think Green Burial Is
MYTH ONE A NEW IDEA
In fact, green burial is the way that humanity has traditionally taken care of its dead. Simple in-ground burial is an effective, respectful form of disposition, and now recognized as one of the earliest rituals of human civilization.
The purposeful burial of bodies has been traced as far back as 62,000 years ago, to the Neanderthals at the Shanidar Cave in Northern Iraq. Human remains discovered at Shanidar were found to have been placed in organized interments that took place over many centuries. The deceased were found to have been placed in graves lined with pine boughs and wildflowers along with food, charcoal, weapons and stone tools.
By about 10,000 BCE and the appearance of the Cro-Magnons, our human ancestors were carefully laying out their dead in the fetal position, covering them with powder, wrapping them with animal skins and placing them in graves lined with reed mats set atop cut branches.
While the act of a simple burial is essentially unchanged from the dawn of civilization, the traditions, rituals and beliefs attached to the burial process have evolved over time. From the pyramids of Egypt and the catacombs of Ancient Greece and Rome, to the picturesque Victorian Garden Cemeteries, burial traditions gradually became disconnected from basic human needs. In Western Europe, but most especially North America, elaborate burial practices, such as the routine embalming of bodies, the sealing caskets and burial vaults, and the granting of perpetual grave rights helped to spawn a movement that called for a return to a simpler practice—and “green burial” was born.
While much can be written about the reasons leading to the green burial movement, its most fundamental call to action is for a return to simple, in-ground burial practices. Minimal but dignified preparation of remains, the placement of the remains directly into the ground with nothing to impede natural decomposition, and the creation of a setting that contributes to the local ecology are ideas that resonate with many in the modern world. Along with the public’s desire for sustainable practices, many people are now also seeking to establish a new connection with the bereavement sector.
While some cultures and faiths, such as Islam and Judaism, have retained their connection with simple interment, the modern green burial movement asks all of us to consider a return to the practice of natural burials; a practice that, rather than being a “new idea,” harkens back to the first steps in the civilization of the human species.
Slide 1 Artist's Rendering of Ceremony Slide 2 Artist's Rendering of Burial