A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, respecting, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customscomprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from intermentitself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor. Customs vary widely between cultures, and between religious affiliations within cultures.
The word funeral comes from the Latin funus, which had a variety of meanings, including the corpse and the funerary rites themselves.Funerary art is art produced in connection with burials, including many kinds of tombs, andobjects specially made for burial with a corpse.
Funeral rites are as old as the human cultureitself, predating modern Homo sapiens, to at least 300,000 years ago. For example, in the Shanidar cave in Iraq, in Pontnewydd Cave in Wales and other sites across Europe and the Near East, Neanderthal skeletons have been discovered with a characteristic layer of flower pollen.
This has been interpreted as suggesting that Neanderthals believed in an afterlife, although the evidence is not unequivocal – while the dead were apparently indeed buried deliberately, theflowers might have been introduced by burrowing rodents.