Archaeologists believe that cremation started around 3000 BC. It was most likely used first in Europe or possibly the Near East. Between 800 BC and 600 BC in Greece and Rome, cremation was the most common method of final disposition. In other cultures however, other methods were being used:
The Christian church rejected cremation, partly because of its similarities with the pagan societies of Greece and Rome. The Christians buried their dead in graves. In ancient China, they were buried. Ancient Egyptians embalmed their bodies then buried them in tombs.
When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, other religions were exiled or exterminated. Burial then became the only method of disposition throughout Europe. An Italian, Professor Brunetti, developed the first modern cremation chamber in the 1870’s. This caused movement towards cremation in Europe and North America. In 1886, the Roman Catholic Church banned cremations. Church members were excommunicated for arranging them up until World War II. The Eastern Orthodox ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople stated in 1961 that “There is no formal Orthodox rule against cremation, but there is a heavy weight of custom and sentiment in favour of Christian burial”. There are approximately 1,100 crematories and 470,915 cremations per year in North America.