The process of cremation takes place at a crematory or crematorium where the body of a deceased is kept in a container and then it is placed in the cremation chamber. Here the container is exposed to a very high temperature (approximately 1,600 to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit) for two to three hours. During this time period, the body gets transferred to bone fragments which are known as cremated remains or cremation ashes. Finally the bone fragments are process into fine particles which is then handed over to the family member of the deceased.
In the US, the rate of cremation over burial has gone high in recent years. People are choosing cremation due to a number of reasons such as to save money, to save land, simplicity and convenience, for the benefit of environment and so on. There are many benefits of cremation. But if you take a close look at history, cremation is not at all a new concept.
It is believed that the concept of cremation began during the early Stone Age around 3000 B.C and it was very popular in Europe or the Near East at that time. There are evidences of decorative pottery cremation urns in western Russia among the Slavic population. During the Bronze Age (2500 to 1000 B.C.) cremation became popular in the British Isles (now Spain and Portugal). Proper cemeteries were developed in Hungary and northern Italy. There are also many evidences indicating that people practiced cremation in China during the beginning of 8000 B.C. In fact, cremation also practiced in some areas of Greece till 480 B.C.
During the Iron Age and Viking Age, cremation was hugely popular in Sweden, but with the introduction of Christianity in 1050 A.D. burial become more popular as compared to cremation.
In the western part of Roman empire, cremation was practiced until the first century A.D., but as Christianity gained popularity, cremation was not at all practiced in the most areas of Europe by the fifth century A.D.
During the French Revolution, there were many groups who came in favor of cremation in order to reduce the role played by the church in the funeral process. Due to this Roman Catholic Church opposed the practice of cremation until the 20th century.
The whole concept of modern cremation began in the late 1800s after Professor Brunetti of Italy invented the practical cremation chamber. This new invention was presented by him at the Vienna Exposition in 1873. After that the concept started gaining popularity almost simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic. Queen Victoria’s surgeon, Sir Henry Thompson, fostered the use of cremation in the British Isles and he founded the Cremation Society of England in 1874. In 1878, Woking, England and Gotha, Germany were home to the first European crematories in Europe.
In the US, the first modern crematory was established in 1876 by Dr. Julius LeMoyne. This cemetory is located in Washington in Pennsylvania. In 1884 the second crematory opened in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Soon other cemeteries were constructed in Buffalo, New York, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Detroit and Los Angeles .By 1900, there were 20 crematories in operation in the United States. In 1913, the organization named Cremation Association of America was formed by Dr. Hugo Erichsen. In 1975, the name of Cremation Association of America was changed to the Cremation Association of North America in order to reflect the fact that all members of the association came from the United States and Canada. There were over 425 crematories and nearly 150,000 cremations at the time of the name change. In 1999, there were 1,468 crematories and 595,617 cremations in the United States.
Today, cremation service is practiced in different parts of the world and soon its popularity will definitely increase in the coming years.