How Ancient Greece Buried Their Dead?

How Ancient Greece Buried Their Dead

In ancient Greece, the burial practices were deeply rooted in their religious beliefs and traditions. The Greeks believed in the existence of an afterlife and believed that proper burial was essential for the deceased to have a peaceful journey to the underworld. Let’s explore how the ancient Greeks buried their dead.

Types of Burial

The ancient Greeks practiced different types of burials based on their social status, customs, and time period. Here are some of the most common burial practices:


One of the most prevalent methods was inhumation, where the body was buried underground. The deceased was usually placed in a wooden coffin or wrapped in a shroud. Families would gather to mourn and pay respects at the gravesite.


Cremation was another method used by some ancient Greeks. The body would be cremated on a funeral pyre, and then the ashes would be collected and placed in an urn. These urns were often decorated with intricate designs and inscriptions.

Secondary Burial

In certain cases, secondary burial was practiced. This involved burying the deceased initially but later exhuming the bones and transferring them to ossuaries or communal tombs.

Rituals and Customs

Greek burial rituals were accompanied by various customs to honor the dead:

Mourning Period

The Greeks observed a mourning period after someone’s death, which typically lasted several days. During this time, family members wore black clothing as a symbol of grief.

Funeral Procession

A funeral procession was an important part of Greek burial customs. The body was carried on a funeral bier, accompanied by family members and friends. Professional mourners, known as “pr√≥skynous,” were often hired to lament the deceased.

Grave Goods

Ancient Greeks believed in an afterlife, and therefore, they often buried the deceased with grave goods. These items included pottery, jewelry, weapons, and even food and drink offerings. These offerings were meant to provide comfort and sustenance to the deceased in the afterlife.

Monuments and Memorials

The ancient Greeks erected various types of monuments and memorials to honor their dead:


Tombstones were commonly used to mark individual graves. These tombstones often had inscriptions that included the name of the deceased, their lineage, and sometimes even a brief description of their life.


Stelai were tall stone slabs that were used as grave markers or memorials for individuals or families. These stelai often depicted scenes from the deceased’s life or symbols associated with their profession or achievements.


In some cases, wealthy individuals or powerful families built elaborate mausoleums as final resting places. These structures showcased wealth and power while providing a lasting tribute to the deceased.


Ancient Greek burial practices reflected their beliefs in the afterlife and the importance of honoring the dead. Through various burial methods, rituals, grave goods, and monuments, they ensured that their loved ones had a proper farewell and a peaceful journey to the underworld.