Main content

Why Do We Bury Our Dead?

The ritual of burying the dead stretches back to the obscure beginnings of human history - and perhaps beyond – but how important is it, and how did it evolve?

The ritual of burying the dead stretches back to the obscure beginnings of human history - and perhaps beyond, with archaeologists uncovering evidence of burials that pre-date our own species. But why do we bury our dead? How important is it, and how did the practice evolve? CrowdScience listener Moses from Uganda began pondering these questions after attending a close relative’s funeral.

We search for clues in some of the earliest known burial sites, compare other methods for dealing with human remains, and explore how the funeral practices around the world today compare to those of our ancestors. Did these rituals originally develop for reasons of simple hygiene, or are religious and symbolic aspects the real key to understanding them?

Presented by Anand Jagatia
Produced by Cathy Edwards for the BBC World Service

(Photo: A bereaved young woman in black, taking flowers to a grave. Credit: Getty Images)

Available now

27 minutes

Last on

Mon 28 Jan 2019 18:32GMT

Broadcasts

  • Fri 25 Jan 2019 20:32GMT
  • Fri 25 Jan 2019 21:32GMT
  • Sun 27 Jan 2019 00:32GMT
  • Mon 28 Jan 2019 05:32GMT
  • Mon 28 Jan 2019 06:32GMT
  • Mon 28 Jan 2019 07:32GMT
  • Mon 28 Jan 2019 11:32GMT
  • Mon 28 Jan 2019 14:32GMT
  • Mon 28 Jan 2019 18:32GMT

Send us your question

Send us your question

Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk

Podcast