By placing stones on top of a dead body to prevent wild animals disturbing the gravesite, prehistoric man inadvertently began the custom of burying the dead .
Burial practices vary throughout history and the world, e.g. the Egyptian mummies and pyramid tombs were decorated with hieroglyphic art; the ancient Romans interred their dead in niches beneath the city in what are known as the Catacombs; and the Vikings launched the dead out to sea in boats. Many other civilizations cremated the dead, painted bodies, erected tombs or placed simple markers at the death and/or burial site.
In modern times, the custom of burying dead people below ground with a stone marker to mark the place is used in almost every modern culture. Cremation is the norm in India and mandatory in Japan.