When Portus was built in the middle of the first century AD, the
dead were always cremated in so called public
This custom continued till the reign of the emperor Hadrian (117
AD) when burial was introduced and for a long time cremation and
inhumation went side by side.
At the end of the second century burial was more common than cremation
and after the
early third century it seems that no new provisions for cremation
It is not clear why these customs changed. Christianity was not
yet that popular and there is no evidence of a growing spritual
respect for the human body.
It probably was just a new fashion.
The first person known to have adopted this new fashion at Rome
was a certain Abascantus, secretary of the emperor Domitian. The
Roman poet Statius wrote that
Abascantus embalmed his wife's body after her death with costly
Statius suggested that he chose for burial because he found cremation
Anyhow, we shall see that the change of custom
had its influence on the burial culture.