In the first place, since the elements of which we see the world composed-solid earth and moisture, the light breaths of air and torrid fire-all consist  of bodies that are neither birthless nor deathless, we must believe the same of the Earth as a whole, and of its populations.. . . And whatever earth contributes  to feed the growth of others is restored to it. It is an observed fact that the Universal Mother is also the  common grave. Earth, therefore, is whittled away and renewed with fresh increment.

Lucretius: De Rerum Natura 55 bc