Cremation is a practice that dates as far back in history as the Stone Age. It is believed that creation originated in European countries and spread to other regions such as the Middle East, Asia and the Far East in following centuries. Naturally, cremation results in the physical body being turned into ash, and that ash, in order to be preserved needed a vessel or urn to contain it. Although certain religions and cultures rejected cremation, some of those beliefs were set aside in the middle 14th century when Asia, the Middle East and Europe was confronted with one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, the Black Plague. It is estimated that between 75 to 200 million people died as a result of the disease and because it was so contagious, cremating the deceased was the safest practice known at the time.
In 1873, Professor Brunetti of Padua, Italy is credited with developing the first crematorium chamber and causing rise to a renewed interest and acceptance of cremation. This growing trend resulted in the widespread use of burial urns made from a variety of materials, the most common of which was pottery.
Today, burial urns are commonly found made of marble, onyx, granite, glass, bronze, wood and various metals. In the 21st Century, urns have become more unique and personalized than ever, with engraved writing and art embedded into the face of the material. Quite often, even religious and family practices are considered in the design process of the urn. Sizes of urns vary greatly in order to accommodate adults, infants, life companions and even pets. Cremation urns continue to be a much favored manner to honor and preserve the deceased into eternity.