” Graves tell a lot about humans who sleep in there. They tell more about those who don‘t. ”
I was bored to death. I had nothing to do. Girls had stopped texting me, and drawing and writing seemed taxing and silly. There were no new movies in my phone, no nice new songs, and nobody I could play chess with. Last few days had been unfortunate and I was feeling alone. Surely, I could masturbate. But I haven’t touched myself since I read about the strong connection between frequent masturbation and hairfall.
I had only one option left. So, I opened my textbook.
History focuses on the dead. The past. The traces, the footprints imprinted millennia ago, and their surviving remains. The shattered, decomposing, abandoned evidence of life. Graves matter a lot in understanding the society, the belief, the nature, and even the economy of a culture in the past. The corpses they contain make it possible to sketch a picture that speaks about the world of old times. Isn’t it ironical that you learn so much about life from abodes of death?
It all began with neanderthals they say, the species that existed 175000-40000 years ago. Neanderthals were bulkier than modern-humans. They had emotions towards dead bodies as they didn’t leave them to rot, but buried them with respect. Life was short those days. And precious too, maybe. Shanidar caves, one of the burial sites of Neanderthals, show us one of the oldest graves.
In Mesopotamia, in the third dynasty of Ur (2150-2000 BCE) , Royal cemeteries existed. A dead king was buried with all his personal servants, slaves, and officials. Sixty bodies were found at a site. You can only imagine the horror of the 59 bodies who were being prisoned forever inside the earth. The semi-god king here appears like a Satan, and the death like a massacre. Dead rich people weren’t buried with living attendants, however, they took loads of fortune to their graves. People believed in spirits and afterlife and hoped they’d still be sucking soups from chalices every morning – if they really had soup, or chalices. Normal people just took earthen pottery. They didn’t have precious stuffs like copper, and their afterlife didn’t matter much either.
Egyptians treated the dead bodies of their pharaohs rather benevolently, eviscerating them, embalming them and wrapping them in bandages, and then resting them in gold coffins. There’s no scientific evidence if the pharaoh wallowed in satisfaction at this or not. I mean he was dead. So maybe he didn’t care. Everybody knows about king Tut anyway.
In Indus Valley Civilization, people were rather humble and modest. Graves do not show a baffling class-hierarchy. The burials we find are mostly extended, heads in the north. There are urn burials and fractional burials too. Maybe they believed that precious stuffs are of a higher value to living people.
The burials show a belief in afterlife, despite the age and culture. They show how the society was structured, whose lives mattered, what directions meant for them, what pottery meant for them, what diseases prevailed, how long was the human time line in their days. They define who we are as humans. They tell more about the people who bury rather than the people who are buried. Be it early men who wore skin and fur, or be it modern people who wear Raybans and Raymonds.