What happens when we die? Until Cracked gets an exclusive interview with the Big Guy Upstairs, we, unfortunately, can’t answer that question. But it’s a question we assume has been plaguing humans since humans have had questions. We may not know anything about the great unknown, but we do know a little about what people have historically thought about death …and whatever, if anything, comes next. 

Previously we’ve covered attempts to prove the afterlife (spoiler: they all failed) and as far as we know there’s been no successful update since then. Faith in an afterlife can be a beautiful way of imagining reuniting with departed loved ones and incentivize not being a douchebag, but, especially with the added perspective of examining beliefs of ancient religions, it can also bring out the truly weird and disturbing imaginations of people.

Here’s a round-up of interesting facts about the history of death, funerals, and the beliefs of the afterlife for your entertainment and/or future belief system.

In Ancient Greece, it was believed that if you cut the feet off the corpse, it couldn't rise to haunt you.

CRACKED.COM In Ancient Greece, it was believed that if you cut the feet off the corpse, it couldn't rise to haunt you. Greek tragedies discuss the method of cutting off the feet, hands, ears, nose, and other extremities and tying the removed body parts together under the armpits of a murder victim to prevent the undead from taking vengeance.

Source: Oxford Classical Dictionary

Embalmers would secretly cut out the hearts of commoners' mummies so the elite didn't have to share the afterlife with them

GRACKED.COM Embalmers would secretly cut out the hearts of commoners' mummies so the elite didn't have to share the afterlife with them DEINEN Ancient Egyptians believed the heart was the key to the afterlife, but researchers have discovered that by the time anyone could afford to mummify themselves, an overwhelming amount of mummies were missing the vital organ.

Source: USA Today

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Mesopotamians believed the dead lived under the earth, drinking from muddy puddles and eating dust

GRACKED.COM Mesopotamians believed the dead lived under the earth, drinking from muddy puddles and eating dust In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal was the goddess of the dead who made sure no living soul found out about the gloomy underworld.

Source: World History Encyclopedia

In 17th and 18th century Poland, deceased nobles had coffin portraits.

CRACKED.COM In 17th and 18th century Poland, deceased nobles had coffin portraits. D. S. C. Realistic paintings of the deceased were put on coffins during funerals but removed before the burial.

Source: Ikon

In Korea, figurines were buried with people to help them in the afterlife

CRACKED.COM In Korea, figurines were buried with people to help them in the afterlife. From the 4th to 20th century, carved and brightly painted wooden acrobats, dragons, and clowns would be placed on funeral biers to guide, protect, and entertain the dead.

Source: New York Times

The first emperor of China had a terracotta army buried with him

CRACKED.COM The first emperor of China had a terracotta army buried with him To protect him in the afterlife, Qin Shi Huang was buried with over 8,000 unique, life-size sculptures of warriors.

Source: ArtNet

Early Christians believed this world would become a restored Eden in their lifetimes

CRACKED.COM Early Christians believed this world would become a restored Eden First-century Christians believed that this world would be transformed into heaven, where humans would be liberated from death and sin, within their lifetimes.

Source: Washington Post

In Ancient Mexico, dogs were sacrificed to help guide their deceased owner's soul to the underworld.

CRACKED.COM In Ancient Mexico, dogs were sacrificed to help guide their deceased owner's soul to the underworld. The hairless xoloitzcuintli, aka its the Mexican from two Aztec words: dog, Xolotl, gets the name god of lightning and death, and itzcuintli, dog.

Source: National Geographic and Man

73% of adult Americans believe in heaven

CRACKED.COM 73% of adult Americans believe in heaven Only 62% believe in hell. (The survey did not immediately offer a definition for either.)

Source: PEW

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