A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, respecting, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, 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, and objects specially made for burial with a corpse.
Funeral rites are as old as human culture itself, pre-dating modern Homo sapiens and originating at least 300,000 years ago. For example, in the Shanidar Cave in Iraq, in Pontnewydd Cave in Wales and at other sites across Europe and the Near East, archeologists have discovered Neanderthal skeletons with a characteristic layer of flowerpollen. This has been interpreted as suggesting that Neanderthals believed in an afterlife, although the evidence is not unequivocal – while the dead were apparently buried deliberately, burrowing rodents might have introduced the flowers.