Commemorative Burial Practices of Ancient Greece
Acknowledging a person’s life after death preoccupied the ancient Greeks throughout the history of the peninsula. Tombs of important people in a community were built to show their power and influence, and at times sacrificial objects accompanied their tombs. Over time, funeral practices such as games made an impact in society and became an eclectic tradition of prestige and honor. Eventually, burials in monuments became more symbolic in terms of remembering the departed.
The death of a leader or a person of high social standing was considered a great loss to a community. In response, the deceased were entombed rather than simply buried in the ground. The tholos tomb of Clytemnestra, though not necessarily the actual tomb of the mythical queen, was a monument to someone who could afford such a building constructed for them. The dromos arrangement, a difficult and time consuming design, was a dome structure in which the stone is pushed further in until it reaches a peak. The tholos tombs in the vicinity of Mycenae numbered about thirty as compared to the fewer number of Egyptian pyramids. This represents not only how vital it was to continue the practice of honorable burial structures but also shows how great an undertaking it was since a lot of resources were used to produce these structures.
Evidence shows that later sacrificial practices occurred within the tombs found in the grave of the Hero of Lefkandi. The house itself is a shrine, but unlike the tholos tombs which were discovered without of any funerary objects, this has remnants of objects of importance. Along with the body of a woman and ash which is presumed to be that of a man, four horses were placed with the deceased. This sacrifice of animals resembles what Homer describes in the Odyssey, “At the eighteenth dawn we gave you to the flames and slaughtered around your body droves of fat sheep and shambling longhorn cattle…a resounding roar went up...