The earlier period is characterized by the practice of inhumation in harrows made of clays, stones or sand, according to the district.
Each way, in which inhumation was the rule.
On the other hand inhumation below the surface of the ground, without perceptible trace of a barrow, seems to have been the most usual practice during the national migration period, both in England and on the continent.
This illustrates the early importance of Genoa as a trading port, and the penetration of Greek customs, inhumation being the usual practice of the Ligurians.
In Scandinavian lands the change noted by Icelandic writers may be dated about the 5th and 6th centuries, though inhumation was certainly not altogether unknown before that time.
In this last necropolis cremation seems slightly to precede inhumation in date.
Throughout the stone age inhumation appears to have been universal, many of the neolithic tombs being chambers of considerable size and constructed with massive blocks of stone.
The graves at Hallstatt were partly inhumation partly cremation; they contained swords, daggers, spears, javelins, axes, helmets, bosses and plates of shields and hauberks, brooches, various forms of jewelry, amber and glass beads, many of the objects being decorated with animals and geometrical designs.
They are all inhumation burials, of the advanced iron age, and date from the 7th to the 4th century B.C., falling into three classes - those without coffin, those with a coffin formed of stone slabs, and those with a coffin formed of tiles.
Next come the various kinds of inhumation graves, the most important of which are rock-hewn chambers, many of which contain well-preserved paintings of various periods; some show close kinship to archaic Greek art, while others are more recent, and one, the Grotta del Tifone (so called from the typhons, or winged genii of death, represented) in which Latin as well as Etruscan inscriptions appear, belongs perhaps to the middle of the 4th century B.C. Fine sarcophagi from these tombs, some showing traces of painting, are preserved in the municipal museum, and also numerous fine Greek vases, bronzes and other objects.