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09/09/2008

PetUrnToday’s scholars agree that cremation began during the early Stone Age -- around 3000 B.C. -- and most likely in both the Near East and in the late Stone Age across northern Europe. Cremation moved into the British Isles and into what is now Spain and Portugal around the time of the Bronze Age -- 2500 to 1000 B.C. Cemeteries for cremation developed in Hungary and northern Italy, spreading to northern Europe and Ireland. It wasn’t until the Mycenaean Age, 1000 B.C. that cremation became an important part of Grecian burials, and it became the dominant mode of disposition by the time of Homer in 800 B.C.

The early Romans took note of cremation around 600 B.C. and by the time of the Roman Empire -- 27 B.C. to 395 A.D. -- it was widely practiced. That’s when it became custom for cremated remains to be placed and stored in elaborate urns. Although the practice was popular among the Romans, cremation was rare with the early Christians. They considered it pagan while in the Jewish culture, traditional sepulcher entombment was preferred.

By 400 A.D., as a result of Constantine's Christianization of the Empire, earth burial had completely replaced cremation and for the next 1,500 years, remained the accepted mode of disposition throughout Europe.

It has also been determined that people from around the world have honored pets upon their death and buried them in cremation pet urns at pet cemeteries for centuries. Interestingly, an archaeological team discovered an ancient pet cemetery with the remains of 1000 dogs dating back to the period of Persian rule from 539 to 332 BC in Palestine.

Modern cremation, as we know it, actually began only a little over a century ago, after years of experimentation into the development of a dependable chamber. The cremation movement started almost simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic when an Italian professor named Brunetti perfected his model of cremation, displaying it at the 1873 Vienna Exposition. In the British Isles, Queen Victoria's surgeon, Sir Henry Thompson, was concerned with hazardous health conditions, so he and his colleagues founded the Cremation Society of England in 1874. Crematories in Europe were first built in 1878 in England and Germany.

The Cremation Association of America was founded in 1913, and by then, there were 52 crematories in North America. By the year 1975, there were over 425 crematories and nearly 150,000 cremations, when the name was changed to the Cremation Association of North America. By 1999, there were 1,468 crematories and 595,617 cremations.

In America, Hartsdale Pet Cemetery and Crematory is the oldest and most prestigious pet memorial and burial grounds. Developed  in 1896, by the end of the War there were more than 2,000 graves in this Westchester County, New York cemetery where pets are buried in pet urns, and pet caskets, with pet memorial markers. Today, there are more than 70,000 pets buried there, and many have custom pet memorial stones and grave markers.

In France, the Le Cimetière des Chiens D'Asnières-Sur-Seine features a large sculpture with the carving of a Saint Bernard carrying a child. The dog, Barry, saved the lives of 40 people in the Alps before he lost his own life attempting a rescue for the 41st time. Another large tombstone-has a statue of a German Shepherd memorializing all police dogs who have died in action.

Located in the United Kingdom at Brynford near Holywell in Flintshire, is an award-winning pet cemetary. For several years, this pet cemetery has won a distinguished award for the UK's best facility of its kind from the Memorial Awareness Board, an organization run by the National Association of Memorial Masons.

Brynford's owner John Ward and his wife started the cemetery 1989, and since then, more than 500 pets have been cremated or buried there. This cemetery features a chapel, tea rooms, and a visitor center on seven and a half acres of landscaped gardens designed for pet memorials

During the last few decades, we have seen a dramatic increase in cremation compared to the traditional burial, which has increased the need options when determining a final resting place for the remains - whether we are talking about humans or our pets. Some families choose to scatter their loved one's remains, but the majority chooses to place them in a permanent container or cremation urn which can be kept at home with the family.

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