Funerary urns (also called cinerary urns and burial urns) have been used by many civilizations. After a person died, survivors cremated the body and collected the ashes in an urn. Pottery urns, dating from about 7000 BC, have been found in an early Jiahu site in China, where a total of 32 burial urns are found, and another early finds are in Laoguantai, Shaanxi. There are about 700 burial urns unearthed over the Yangshao (5000–3000 BC) areas and consisting more than 50 varieties of form and shape. The burial urns were used mainly for children, but also sporadically for adults. In ancient Greece, the lekythos, a type of pottery in ancient Greece, was used for holding oil in funerary rituals. In the Bavarian tradition, a king’s heart would be placed in the urn upon his death (as happened with King Otto of Bavaria in 1916). Cremation urns were also commonly used in early Anglo Saxon England, and in many Pre-Columbian cultures.
Romans placed the urns in a niche in a collective tomb called a columbarium (literally, dovecote). The interior of a dovecote usually has niches to house doves.
The discovery of a Bronze Age urn burial in Norfolk, England, prompted Sir Thomas Browne to describe the antiquities found. He expanded his study to survey burial and funerary customs, ancient and current, and published it as Hydriotaphia or Urn Burial (1658).
In the modern funeral industry, cremation urns of varying quality, elaborateness, and cost are offered, and urns are another source of potential profit for an industry concerned that a trend toward cremation might threaten profits from traditional burial ceremonies. Biodegradable urns are sometimes used for both human and animal burial. They are made from eco-friendly materials such as recycled or handmade paper, salt, cellulose or other natural products that are capable of decomposing back into natural elements, and sometimes include a seed intended to grow into a tree at the site of the burial.
Besides the traditional funeral or cremation ashes urns, it is also possible to keep a part of the ashes of the loved one or beloved pet in keepsake urns or ash jewelry. It is even possible to place the ashes of two people in so-called companion urns. Source Cremation or funeral urns are made from a variety of materials such as wood, nature stone, ceramic, glass, or steel.
Scattering of ashes has become popular over the last decade. As a result, urns designed to scatter the ashes from have been developed. Some are eco-friendly, affordable and can be recycled after being used.