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Traditional religious constraints were not viewed as impossible barriers to progress.

Societies were established to promote cremation in many influential cities, including London and The Hague in 1874, Washington, D. Central to these interest groups lay influential people as with Sir Henry Thompson (surgeon to Queen Victoria), whose highly influential book on cremation, The Treatment of the Body after Death, was published in 1874, followed shortly by William Eassie's Cremation of the Dead in 1875.

The fire itself is the medium by which the body is offered to the gods as a kind of last sacrifice; cremation should take place in Banaras, the sacred city through which the sacred Ganges River flows.

It is on the banks of the Ganges that cremations occur and cremated remains are placed in its holy waters.

The anthropologist Robert Hertz has described this as a double burial, with a "wet" first phase coping with the corpse and its decay, and a "dry" second phase treating the skeletal remains and ash.

The chief difference between cremation and burial is the speed of transformation: Corpses burn in two hours or less, but bodies take months or years to decay, depending upon methods used and local soil conditions.

The method of body disposal least like cremation is mummification, which seeks to preserve the body rather than destroy it.

Archaeological evidence shows cremation rituals dating back to ancient times.

In Holland, for example, the 1874 group did not actually open a crematorium until 1914.

In this case, cremation was a kind of industrial process necessary to deal with the immense number of corpses that attended Hitler's "Final Solution." With the increasing predominance of Christianity in Europe after the fifth century C.

E., cremation was gradually abandoned in favor of earth burial as a symbol of the burial and resurrection of Christ.

In classical antiquity, cremation was a military procedure and thus was associated with battlefield honors. The seventeenth-century French painter Nicolas Poussin echoed another classical story in his masterpiece The Ashes of Phocion, perhaps the most famous of all cremation-linked paintings, in which a faithful wife gathers the ashes of her husband, an improperly shamed leader who was cremated without the proper rites.

Both cremation and the interment of cremated remains are described in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, both dating from the eighth century B. The ritual cremation of Roman emperors involved the release of an eagle above the cremation pyre to symbolize his deification and the passing of the emperor-god's spirit.