What Happens if a Body Was Buried in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, death was an inevitable part of life. When a person passed away, the body was typically buried within a day or two.

But what happened after the body was buried? Let’s take a closer look.

Burial Practices in Ancient Greece

In ancient Greece, burial practices varied depending on the region and time period. However, there were some common elements across most practices.

Preparation of the Body

Before burial, the body was washed and anointed with oil and perfumes. This was typically done by family members or friends of the deceased.

The Burial Process

After preparation, the body was placed in a coffin or wrapped in a shroud and taken to the burial site. The burial site could be a cemetery, a family tomb, or even just a plot of land owned by the family.

At the burial site, mourners would gather around as prayers were recited. The body would then be lowered into the ground and covered with dirt.

What Happens to the Body After Burial?

After burial, what happens to the body depends on several factors such as location, time period, and social status.


One thing that is certain is that over time, the body will decompose. In ancient Greece, this process could take several years depending on where and how it was buried.

  • In dry areas, bodies could mummify rather than decompose.
  • In wet areas such as near rivers or lakes, bodies could become waterlogged.
  • In some cases where bodies were buried in clay jars or coffins made of stone or marble, decomposition may have been slower due to lack of oxygen.

Grave Robbers

Another factor that could affect the body after burial was grave robbers. In ancient Greece, grave robbing was not uncommon. Grave robbers would often dig up graves in search of valuable items such as jewelry or pottery.

Unfortunately, this also meant that they disturbed the remains of the deceased. Bones could be scattered and coffins or tombs could be damaged.


In conclusion, burial practices in ancient Greece varied depending on the region and time period. After burial, the body would decompose over time or could be disturbed by grave robbers.

While we may never know exactly what happened to every body that was buried in ancient Greece, we can learn a lot about their beliefs and customs through studying burial practices.