Why Do We Bury Our Dead?

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?

Listen to this BBC World Service programme, CrowdScience, here.

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

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