Burial rites in ancient Rome

In ancient Rome, burying the dead according to the rules and commemorating them during public or private festivities was a religious duty of family and friends.

The dead were worshipped as ancestors (Manes), who could be of assistance if properly remembered, or become formidable opponents if neglected. This bond between the living and the dead was seen as an integral part of everyday life. The types of burial practised in Rome were cremation and entombment, both set forth by the laws of the Twelve Tables. Historical sources report a prevalence of the rite of cremation from the third century BC to the first century AD, while with the advent of Christianity, the situation was reversed. Sarcophagi were generally placed inside burial chambers, often richly decorated, and showed a high social standing. Members of the most disadvantaged social classes or individuals in bondage instead, were buried in simple tombs dug into the bare earth, made of tiles or shards of amphorae.

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