Living with the Dead

Ongoing Exhibition 

Funerary rituals were an integral part of ancient commemorative culture. The physical traces of funerary practices help to illuminate the continued relationship between the living and the dead. 

Burial practices differed among ancient cultures and changed over time. The preparation of the body might include washing, anointing, or presentation in the home for mourners. A funeral procession to the graveside then followed. At the graveside, further rituals were performed and offerings made. The body was then either buried in a sarcophagus or burial vessel (inhumation), or cremated and the ashes collected into an urn; some were mummified. After burial, graves were frequently marked, and family and friends often returned to make offerings. Although burial customs differed between ancient cultures, their purpose was the same: to preserve the memory of the dead, and often, to promote the social status of the living.

Curated by James Donaldson and Alana Strong