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Roman Burial Customs The Etruscans were the first major rulers of Rome and their customs were incorporated into early Roman custom The importance of life after death for the Etruscans is seen in the large and elaborate necropoleis cities of the dead surrounding each town and also in the size and variety as well as the decoration of rock-cut tombs Etruscans developed three forms of tomb with which to house their deceased The most inexpensive and simplistic tomb was simply an underground chamber constructed on the family estate Such tombs basically comprised a small square chamber More complex and prominent was the tumulus tomb which featured a huge mound above the tombsite The other form of tomb was the cube tomb which was an underground cube shaped structure The majority of these tombs had altars above them and internal construction was designed to be similar to the family house The tombs could carry many family members or only one prominent member The deceased were usually buried with some of their worldly possessions and were placed on stone couches before 5th Century BC or placed in sarcophagi which were covered in carvings and pictures after 5th Century It seems that after the decline of the Etruscans the use of tombs was restricted to land owning patricians Their family owned large estates and it was on these properties where tombs were constructed Some prominent individuals had tombs in highly visible places in Rome Friends and family soon incorporated the praises on the epitaphs into funeral speeches As part of the funeral process the laudatio funebris was a speech that praised the achievements of the individual in life For the plebian poor or simply those who did not hold vast tracts of land burial was an expensive option Cremation was a cheaper alternative Even for nobles cremation was a quicker and cheaper process
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