The History of Urns for Ashes

The History of Using Urns for Ashes


For as long as most of us have been alive, urns for ashes have been something we are are familiar with, even if not commonplace in the U.S. until recently – it almost feels as if it’s been going on so long that it’s always been around. However, there was a time when cremations and ash urns were not around. Although there is no definitive answer as to when urns for ashes started being used, it can usually be attributed back to some time in the early Stone Ages. Most estimate that urns for ashes started to become a thing around 3000 B.C. and the vast majority of clues point to it coming from Europe, or maybe even the Near East.

It quickly started to spread from its heritage across North Europe, though, and within a short period of time there was a significant amount of pottery urns made with simple decoration. In Russian and Slavic ruins and old locations, many urns  from generations long past have been found – whilst the decorations started out rather basic due to a lack of any good tools to work with at the time, this soon changed.

By the time that the Bronze Age came around, cremation was now a big part of many parts of Europe such as the British Isles and many parts of the Iberian Peninsula. The growing use of cremation meant that more detailed and more varied urns started to appear, as urns for ashes quickly started to become a thing.

The Grecians were one of the first groups to use it as a custom, though, and it became a very dominant part of their existence – and end – in the Mycenaean Age. The country was involved n serious battles, and it was believed that cremating bodies instead of letting them build up and rot would cause a better long-term level of living for residents. Given the prominence of plague and the like during these eras, it’s very easy to see why cremation started to become more popular.

urn for ashes

The Romans, though, made a massive impact on cremation as they widely used it and made it a significant part of their culture for burial. However, it was widely disliked by early Christians who deemed to it to be Pagan in origin and the Jewish also disliked the style as they preferred the more traditional sepulcher burials instead.

By 400 AD, though, the Christianization of the Roman Empire by Constantine made sure that earth burial became a far more prominent part of the process. It also started to replace urns for ashes and they fell out of common fashion for some time. It was not until the last century or so that cremation started to return, as the likes of Prof. Brunetti from Italy started to create a far bigger noise about the benefits of cremation.

This, in turn, restored urns for ashes to the spotlight. By the late 1800s, it was now restored to the British Isles under Queen Victoria and it started to grow in propensity across Europe. Fast forward to today, and cremation and urns for ashes are beginning to become far more popular again by virtue of their unique design style, creating a whole new range of urns as well as seeing crematoriums open up en masse across the globe.

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