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by Archaeology Newsroom

Funerals and burials in ancient Greece according to literary sources

Soon after death had occurred the close relatives of the dead had to take care of practicalities i.e. the exposition, the funeral and the burial of the corpse. In the day following the death the sad event was announced by a servant or was indicated by a pitcher, placed in front of the front door of the dead. The corpse was washed and laid out on a bed. The relatives cut their hair and wore mournful garments. They also invited friends for the exposition of the dead that took place the day after. The lamentation and the traditional mourning performed by professional women lasted throughout the second day. The funeral itself took place on the third day at dawn. The procession was silent and followed the public road. The women attended from a distance and with the exception of very close relatives they were not allowed to approach the graveyard. The next day the house was sprinkled with sea water, was daubed with earth and finally was washed so as to be cleaned from the contamination of the corpse. Then, sacrifices were offered to the household gods. The relatives had to mourn the male for three and the female for four months.