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Middle English burien, from Old English byrgan; akin to Old High German bergan to shelter, Russian berech' to spare


  • 1 : to dispose of by depositing in or as if in the earth; especially : to inter with funeral ceremonies
  • 2 a : to conceal by or as if by covering with earth
b : to cover from view <buried her face in her hands>
b : to conceal in obscurity <buried the retraction among the classified ads>
c : submerge, engross —usually used with in <buried himself in his books>
  • 4 : to put (a playing card) out of play by placing it in or under the dealer's pack
  • 5 : to succeed emphatically or impressively in making (a shot) <bury a jumper> <bury a putt>
  • 6 : to defeat overwhelmingly


Burial (pronounced /ˈbɛri.əl/, as in berry), also called interment and inhumation, is the act of placing a person's body or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.


Intentional burial, particularly with grave goods, may be one of the earliest detectable forms of religious practice since, as Philip Lieberman suggests, it may signify a "concern for the dead that transcends daily life." Though disputed, evidence suggests that the Neanderthals were the first hominids to intentionally bury the dead, doing so in shallow graves along with stone tools and animal bones. Exemplary sites include Shanidar in Iraq, Kebara Cave in Israel and Krapina in Croatia. Some scholars, however argue that these bodies may have been disposed of for secular reasons.

The earliest undisputed human burial dates back 130,000 years. Human skeletal remains stained with red ochre were discovered in the Skhul cave at Qafzeh, Israel. A variety of grave goods were present at the site, including the mandible of a wild boar in the arms of one of the skeletons.

Prehistoric cemeteries are referred to by the more neutral term grave field. They are one of the chief sources of information on prehistoric cultures, and numerous archaeological cultures are defined by their burial customs, such as the Urnfield culture of the European Bronze Age.[1]

See also