City Martians take great reverence to their dead, an offshoot from the original Martians from before the storm. Ceremonies and burial rites are important to them but they also help to celebrate the lives that are still with them.
When a Martian dies, their body is burned along with their most prized possessions, personal effects that are chosen but aren't part of the family heirloom hoard. If no possessions have been chosen, such as through a sudden death, then close family members will choose items they deem suitable.
A small funeral pyre is built on the roof of the family house and the body is paced on top with the possessions and a small fire is lit underneath. The pyre is doused in special oils that allow the flames to burn low and slow consuming the body over several days. The closest relatives of the deceased stay with the pyre until it grow cold, feeding the pyre if it grows low, murmuring prayers and incantations to the gods. At this time, many visitors whom knew the deceased will visit for a few hours to talk about their City Martian brethren, sing songs and praise all the good deeds that occurred.
Once the pyre has been wholly consumed, the ashes are collected and placed into several small pots (one for each of the gods) and left on the roof of the house for a week whilst the family mourn, this also gives a chance for distant relatives to make the journey and pay their respects. Once the mourning period is over the family will invite other close families to join them in the procession to the Vale of the Deceased. Many Vales surround the older Martian settlements with the more important Martians being interred in the older parts of the Vales. For the new Martian communities, families either have to travel long distances or make do with what they have. The area around New Victoria, for example, is a vast expanse of level ground with the occasional mesa protruding up from the desert. In these cases an entrance way is created in the side of a mesa and the vault is dug into it as described below.
The family would have an area in the Vale solely for their use and it would be expanded as and when necessary. The main structure of the burial site would consist of an entrance mound generally built in front a rock outcrop with a short, open topped processional passage from that leading into a vault carved from the rock. Many floors would be carved into the rock outcrop going further down with each new generation buried. The walls of the vaults are generally left plain with only the family name and most recent ancestors carved above the interment area.
The grander the family, the more impressive the entrance mound and tunnel. Each one would have carvings of major family events (the skill of mural painting was lost in the Great Storm along with many others). The ruling family of course would have the grandest burial site and it would cover a large area and have many generations interred within with a suitably impressive entrance to the mound. If a family dies out (which by all reports seems to be happening more often) then the close friends of that family will block up the main tomb entrance and seal it forever
There have been reports of human explorers trying to gain access to the vaults, very likely with the simple intention of studying them, but the City Martians can take great affront to any unwarranted intrusion to their vales. Some have even placing temporary guards at the vale entrances to prevent any unwelcome visitors...