It’s common practice for Christians to bury the dead in caskets, six feet underground. But have you ever wondered why? How did this funeral ritual develop? How did we bury the dead before the invention of caskets? Let’s take a look at a brief history of caskets and coffins.
Burial is among the oldest forms of funeral ritual in the world, and many cultures across the globe adopt it. In fact, it can be traced back to about 600,000 years ago, when the Neanderthals, living in Eurasia, used to bury their dead in shallow pits on the ground with a few of their personal items.
Fast forward to 3150 B.C, and you will find that the Egyptians were using advanced burial techniques to preserve their dead even during that time. It’s no wonder archaeologists today still find Egyptian mummies dating back to thousands of years, laid in decorated wooden or stone containers. Then, it was about 700 B.C, when the Celtic people in Europe started the practice of laying their dead in burial boxes constructed from flat stones instead of burying them directly in the earth.
Adopting modern encasements
From this progression, it is clear that as man evolved, burial practices and methods evolved also. Earlier, people did not cover the body before burying them. They believed that the body should be united with the earth once again. As time passed, boxes were made to keep the bodies in and this evolved to be what we know today as coffins and caskets.
The word “coffin” was coined by the French, which literally translates to “basket” or “cradle”. The word “casket”, on the other hand, was first used by undertakers in North America. When the civil war broke out, coffins were produced in bulks since so many soldiers died every day and this greatly catapulted the casket industry to where it is today.
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