Daily Life: Burial practices

Family tomb

The journey to eternity

The roads leading out of Pompeii are lined with tombs, not for any ominous reason, but because burial within the city walls was not permitted. The best-known tombs line the road to Herculaneum. Before the Roman colony was established, Pompeians buried their dead in simple stone or brick cists (caskets or containers), but after 80 BC cremation became the norm and wealthier Pompeians started to build more monumental tombs, sometimes including an upper storey that featured statues of the deceased between columns. One particularly elaborate tomb built for a woman named Naevoleia Tyche boasts relief sculptures showing the good works performed by her husband, a freedman, as well as a ship representing trade, the source of her wealth. Another tomb features a wall-painting showing the family silver. Some of the tombs rest within walled enclosures, and one unusual type of burial is marked by a tombstone with a plain circular top resembling a human head. In the early first century BC a number of commemorative curved stone benches were also built in these cemeteries, but archaeologists are not sure whether these were actual burial places or cenotaphs erected to honour dead who lie elsewhere.

Related object
Cremation urn
Details
Related object
Burial objects
Details
Photograph of a yellow plastic Tyranasaurus Rex