History of cremation
Cremation may be older than the traditional funeral. Scholars agree that the first burnings of bodies took place about 3000 BC. Mostly in Europe and the Near East.
Here you can find photos of a few crematoria, both historical and modern.
The burning of bodies has been characteristic in many cultures, as a form of interment prescribed by religion. It would open the way for the soul in the realm of the dead and at the same time prevent the return of death. Cremation was also the most common form of interment for the Greeks and Romans. It remained that way until 400 AD.
In Christian believes burials were preferred, and because Christianity continued to expand after 400 AD, burials took the place of cremations. (Almost everyone adhering to Hinduism and Buddhism still cremated their deceased, up to now). Burning of the body was prohibited under penalty by the Catholic church until the 19th century. Nevertheless, crematoria were built in The United States (Washington) and Europe (Milano in Italy and Gotha in Germany) in 1876.
After that, more crematoria were built in various places around the world, mostly at cemeteries. In some places it was not yet officially allowed (but they turned a blind eye to it) and it was not until 1963 that the Catholic Church officially accepted cremation.
From that time, cremation became more and more common. Nowadays it is in some countries the most common use of interment. Here you can find a list of countries throughout the world by cremation rate
Western history of cremation
History of modern cremation in the United Kingdom
List of countries by cremation rate