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HISTORY OF EMBALMING


Various forms of embalming have existed for thousands of years. The Egyptians, for example, are recorded to have embalmed the higher ranks
of society sometime before 4000 BC and it is said that this practice spread to various other cultures.  The bodies were soaked in a carbonate of
soda known as natron and the visceral contents were removed. Herbs, different salts and aromatics were packed into the cavities of the deceased
and the bodies were wrapped in cloth soaked in preserving materials. The ancient Egyptians believed that the spirit would return to the body
after death so the body needed to remain in good condition.

Embalming techniques were further developed in the 19th century, through vein and artery injections. Embalming became widespread
in North America during the Civil War, due to a very significant rise in dead bodies of war victims who needed to be transported long distances
before burial. Embalming then began to be promoted as a means of “preventing premature burial” and as a means for sanitation or a way to
allegedly prevent the spread of disease. The funeral industry, who emerged between 1880 and 1920, successfully convinced the public at large
that professional services were necessary for proper care of the dead and compatible laws and regulations followed quickly behind. In a very
short period of time, more natural and intimate ways of dealing with the deceased were perceived as dangerous and a health risk.

Currently North America is the only place in the world that routinely practices and encourages embalming.
If you do not wish to be embalmed this must be well known by those who will be responsible to dispose of your body after death. 

For some cultures embalming is considered undignified or an act of disrespect towards the deceased.  Some religions such as Islam and Judaism
even consider embalming to be an act of desecration that is strictly forbidden, so the embalming issue goes well beyond environmental concerns.

Embalming
Myths about Embalming
Truths about Embalming
Source Material/Resources


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