Term Paper: Humanities Death Rites and Religion. Throughout History

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Humanities

Death rites and religion.

Throughout history and in all human societies, death rites have been part of the religion and culture. From the earliest times, ritual was involve with the disposal of the dead. Long before written history, primitive cultures such as the Paleolithic people, such as the Neanderthals, buried their dead with food, ritual items, weapons and extravagant goods, providing for their life in the next world. This ritual goes back at least 50,000 years.

This ritual burial of the dead stems from the belief that something lives on after a person dies. The belief is found in all world religions. In China, for instance, it was believed that the person would be reincarnated into another human or animals, such as dogs or pigs, depending on behavior during life. The dying person's head was shaved, body washed and nails pared. The person was then placed in a sitting position to facilitate the exit of the soul. After the death, relatives and friends asked for the soul to return, perhaps to confirm its departure from the body. The ancient Egyptians developed mummification to preserve bodies to remain lifelike. Before placing the body in the coffin, the priest with a mask of the jackal-headed god, Anubis performed the last rights by touching the lips of the mummy with a special tool to open the mouth. This granted the dead man the power to eat and speak in the next life. In an elaborate burial ceremony, the coffin was placed in a tomb stocked with food, clothing, cosmetics, and furniture that this royal or upper-class individual needed to enjoy the afterlife.

The Aztecs were buried under houses, in the yards, in fields, or in special shrines in the woods. The dead were attired in their finest clothes and some were buried with pottery offering bowls. Not all Aztecs were buried, however, some were cremated and their remains stored in pots. When a person died in ancient Greece, his or her vital breath left the body and entered the palace of the king of the dead, Hades. Along with the dead were buried gifts such as vessels with food and drinks and clothing and jewelry.

Funeral rites, which are closely entwined with religion and culture, continue throughout the world, although different than in early history. Each religion has its own particular customs, such as the Jewish "sitting shiva" or the Irish wake. Hindu funeral rites are intended to take place before sundown on the day of death, with the first-born son conducting the service. Buddhists often prefer cremation. In most cases worldwide, the body is either buried in conventional graveyard or cremated. Health laws have standardized practices in most countries. Today's funerals serve social as well as religious purposes. It gives those who are grieving an opportunity to be supported by their family and friends, and individuals the ability to express their grief. In the U.S., customs are changing. More people are being cremated and having memorial services instead of funerals and even donating their bodies to science.

2) Humanism, Acropolis Parthenon

Traditional humanism was the publishing, annotation and criticism of the Greco-Rome texts. Humanism sought to explain events in the natural world and valued open inquiry and placed humans at the center of moral and social issues. One of the earliest known "humanist" was the Greek teacher and philosopher Protagoras. The basis of humanism can be summed up with his words: "Man is the measure of all things." The Athenian Acropolis, with architecture that was human-centered by the Greek architects who started developing techniques based on the principles of rythmos and symmetria. The Parthenon is one such of these examples. It forms the three principal ideas of humanism, rationalism, and idealism through its structure as well as its ornamentation and sculpture. The Parthenon created an entirely new form of classical architecture by synthesizing the elements of two earlier dominant styles. On the one hand, it was visible to viewers as Doric, with its carved metopes and triglyphs and a column height to diameter ratio of 5.6:1. On the other hand, from the inner porch the columns remain Doric, but the area above the columns is no longer Doric metopes but instead Ionic frieze. Unlike the distinct… [END OF PREVIEW]

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