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A grave is a location where a dead body (typically that of a human, although sometimes that of an animal) is buried. Graves are usually located in special areas set aside for the purpose of burial, such as graveyards or cemeteries.
A cadaver is a dead human body that is used by medical students, physicians and other scientists to study anatomy, identify disease sites, determine causes of death, and provide tissue to repair a defect in a living human being. Students in medical school study and dissect cadavers as a part of their education. Others who study cadavers include archaeologists and artists.
Burial or interment is a method of final disposition wherein a dead person or animal is placed into the ground, sometimes with objects. This is usually accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing the deceased and objects in it, and covering it over. A funeral is a ceremony that accompanies the final disposition. Humans have been burying their dead since shortly after the origin of the species. Burial is often seen as indicating respect for the dead. It has been used to prevent the odor of decay, to give family members closure and prevent them from witnessing the decomposition of their loved ones, and in many cultures it has been seen as a necessary step for the deceased to enter the afterlife or to give back to the cycle of life.
A cemetery or graveyard is a place where the remains of dead people are buried or otherwise interred. The word cemetery implies that the land is specifically designated as a burial ground and originally applied to the Roman catacombs. The term graveyard is often used interchangeably with cemetery, but a graveyard primarily refers to a burial ground within a churchyard.
Certain details of a grave, such as the state of the body found within it and any objects found with the body, may provide information for archaeologists about how the body may have lived before its death, including the time period in which it lived and the culture that it had been a part of.
Archaeology, or archeology, is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts and cultural landscapes. Archaeology can be considered both a social science and a branch of the humanities. In North America archaeology is a sub-field of anthropology, while in Europe it is often viewed as either a discipline in its own right or a sub-field of other disciplines.
Culture is the social behavior and norms found in human societies. Culture is considered a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies. Cultural universals are found in all human societies; these include expressive forms like art, music, dance, ritual, religion, and technologies like tool usage, cooking, shelter, and clothing. The concept of material culture covers the physical expressions of culture, such as technology, architecture and art, whereas the immaterial aspects of culture such as principles of social organization, mythology, philosophy, literature, and science comprise the intangible cultural heritage of a society.
In some religions, it is believed that the body must be burned for the soul to survive; in others, the complete decomposition of the body is considered to be important for the rest of the soul (see bereavement).
Religion is a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.
The soul, in many religious, philosophical, and mythological traditions, is the incorporeal essence of a living being. Soul or psyche comprises the mental abilities of a living being: reason, character, feeling, consciousness, memory, perception, thinking, etc. Depending on the philosophical system, a soul can either be mortal or immortal. In Judeo-Christianity, only human beings have immortal souls. For example, the Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas attributed "soul" (anima) to all organisms but argued that only human souls are immortal.
Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, cultural, spiritual and philosophical dimensions. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement refers to the state of loss, and grief is the reaction to that loss.
The formal use of a grave involves several steps with associated terminology.
The excavation that forms the grave.Excavations vary from a shallow scraping to removal of topsoil to a depth of 6 feet (1.8 metres) or more where a vault or burial chamber is to be constructed. However, most modern graves in the United States are only 4 feet deep as the casket is placed into a concrete box (see burial vault) to prevent a sinkhole, to ensure the grave is strong enough to be driven over, and to prevent floating in the instance of a flood.
Topsoil is the upper, outermost layer of soil, usually the top 5 inches (13 cm) to 10 inches (25 cm). It has the highest concentration of organic matter and microorganisms and is where most of the Earth's biological soil activity occurs. Topsoil is composed of mineral particles, organic matter, water, and air. Organic matter varies in quantity on different soils. The strength of soil structure decreases with the presence of organic matter, creating weak bearing capacities. Organic matter condenses and settles in different ways under certain conditions, such as roadbeds and foundations. The structure becomes affected once the soil is dewatered. The soil's volume substantially decreases. It decomposes and suffers wind erosion.
A burial vault is a container, formerly made of wood or brick but more often today made of concrete, that encloses a coffin to help prevent a grave from sinking. Wooden coffins decompose, and often the weight of earth on top of the coffin, or the passage of heavy cemetery maintenance equipment over it, can cause the casket to collapse and the soil above it to settle.
The material dug up when the grave is excavated. It is often piled up close to the grave for backfilling and then returned to the grave to cover it. As soil decompresses when excavated and space is occupied by the burial not all the volume of soil fits back in the hole, so often evidence is found of remaining soil. In cemeteries this may end up as a thick layer of soil overlying the original ground surface.
The body may be placed in a coffin or other container, in a wide range of positions, by itself or in a multiple burial, with or without personal possessions of the deceased.
A vault is a structure built within the grave to receive the body. It may be used to prevent crushing of the remains, allow for multiple burials such as a family vault, retrieval of remains for transfer to an ossuary, or because it forms a monument.
An ossuary is a chest, box, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce. A body is first buried in a temporary grave, then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in an ossuary. The greatly reduced space taken up by an ossuary means that it is possible to store the remains of many more people in a single tomb than if the original coffins were left as is.
The soil returned to the grave cut following burial. This material may contain artifacts derived from the original excavation and prior site use, deliberately placed goods or artifacts or later material. The fill may be left level with the ground or mounded.
Headstones are best known, but they can be supplemented by decorative edging, foot stones, posts to support items, a solid covering or other options.
A headstone, tombstone, or gravestone is a stele or marker, usually stone, that is placed over a grave. They are traditional for burials in the Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions, among others. In most cases they have the deceased's name, date of birth, and date of death inscribed on them, along with a personal message, or prayer, but they may contain pieces of funerary art, especially details in stone relief. In many parts of Europe insetting a photograph of the deceased in a frame is very common.
Graveyards were usually established at the same time as the building of the relevant place of worship (which can date back to the 8th to 14th centuries) and were often used by those families who could not afford to be buried inside or beneath the place of worship itself. In most cultures those who were vastly rich, had important professions, were part of the nobility or were of any other high social status were usually buried in individual crypts inside or beneath the relevant place of worship with an indication of the name of the deceased, date of death and other biographical data. In Europe this was often accompanied with a depiction of their family coat of arms.
Later graveyards have been replaced by cemeteries.
A tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes. Placing a corpse into a tomb can be called immurement, and is a method of final disposition, as an alternative to for example cremation or burial.
The Catacombs of Rome are ancient catacombs, underground burial places under Rome, Italy, of which there are at least forty, some discovered only in recent decades. Though most famous for Christian burials, either in separate catacombs or mixed together, people of all the Roman religions are buried in them, beginning in the 2nd century AD, mainly as a response to overcrowding and shortage of land. The Etruscans, like many other European peoples, used to bury their dead in underground chambers. The original Roman custom was cremation, after which the burnt remains were kept in a pot, ash-chest or urn, often in a columbarium. From about the 2nd century AD, inhumation became more fashionable, in graves or sarcophagi, often elaborately carved, for those who could afford them. Christians also preferred burial to cremation because of their belief in bodily resurrection at the Second Coming. The Park of the Caffarella and Colli Albani are nearby.
A Japanese funeral includes a wake, the cremation of the deceased, a burial in a family grave, and a periodic memorial service. According to 2007 statistics, 99.81% of deceased Japanese are cremated.
Grave goods, in archaeology and anthropology, are the items buried along with the body.
Disposal of human corpses, also called final disposition, is the practice and process of dealing with the remains of a deceased human being. Like most animals, when humans die, their bodies start to decompose, emitting a foul odor and attracting scavengers and decomposers. Disposal methods may need to account for the fact that soft tissues will decompose relatively rapidly, while the skeleton will remain intact for thousands of years under certain conditions.
The Windover Archeological Site is an Early Archaic archaeological site and National Historic Landmark in Brevard County near Titusville, Florida, USA, on the central east coast of the state. Windover is a muck pond where skeletal remains of 168 individuals were found buried in the peat at the bottom of the pond. The skeletons were well preserved because of the characteristics of peat. In addition, remarkably well-preserved brain tissue has been recovered from many skulls from the site. DNA from the brain tissue has been sequenced. The collection of human skeletal remains and artifacts recovered from Windover Pond represent among the largest finds of each type from the Archaic Period. It is considered one of the most important archeological sites ever excavated.
In Christian countries a churchyard is a patch of land adjoining or surrounding a church, which is usually owned by the relevant church or local parish itself. In the Scots language this can also be known as a kirkyard.
Natural burial is the interment of the body of a dead person in the soil in a manner that does not inhibit decomposition but allows the body to be naturally recycled. It is an alternative to other contemporary Western burial methods and funerary customs.
A burial vault is a structural underground tomb.
The Funeral Rule, enacted by the Federal Trade Commission on April 30, 1984 and amended it effective 1994, was designed to protect consumers by requiring that they receive adequate information concerning the goods and services they may purchase from a funeral provider.
The Qumran cemetery is in eastern Qumran, in the West Bank area of Israel. It is a large area leading to a descent from which four finger-like ridges point eastward. On these ridges more tombs are located. The current estimate of tombs in the cemetery is over 1100. The largest section, that on the plateau proper, has two east-west paths which divide it into three parts. There are also two small cemeteries near Qumran, one ten minutes' walk north of the main cemetery and one to the south, on the other side of Wadi Qumran.
The Taplow Barrow is an early medieval burial mound in Taplow Court, an estate in the south-eastern English county of Buckinghamshire. Constructed in the seventh century, when the region was part of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom, it contained the remains of a deceased individual and their grave goods, now mostly in the British Museum. It is often referred to in archaeology as the Taplow burial.
Burial in Early Anglo-Saxon England refers to the grave and burial customs followed by the Anglo-Saxons between the mid 5th and 11th centuries CE in Early Mediaeval England. The variation of practice performed by the Anglo-Saxon peoples during this period, included the use of both cremation and inhumation. There is commonality in the burial places between the rich and poor - their resting places sit alongside one another in shared cemeteries. Both of these forms of burial were typically accompanied by grave goods, which included food, jewellery and weaponry. The actual burials themselves, whether of cremated or inhumed remains, were placed in a variety of sites, including in cemeteries, burial mounds or, more rarely, in ship burials.
A receiving vault or receiving tomb, sometimes also known as a public vault, is a structure designed to temporarily store dead bodies in winter months when the ground is too frozen to dig a permanent grave in a cemetery. Technological advancements in excavation, embalming, and refrigeration have rendered the receiving vault obsolete.
A bed burial is a type of burial in which the deceased person is buried in the ground, lying upon a bed. It is a burial custom that is particularly associated with high status women during the early Anglo-Saxon period, although excavated examples of bed burials are comparatively rare.
The archaeological sites Randlev and Hesselbjerg refer to two closely related excavations done throughout the 20th century near the village of Randlev in the Odder Municipality of Denmark, three kilometers southeast of the town of Odder. Randlev is known primarily for its Romanesque church constructed sometime around 1100 A.D. Hesselbjerg refers to the large Viking-Age cemetery discovered on the Hesselbjerg family farm and the site Randlev refers to the nearby settlement from the same period. Although both Randlev and Hesselbjerg were contemporaneous and encompass a similar area, Hesselbjerg refers more specifically to the 104 graves discovered prior to the later excavation at the site Randlev, which pertains to the Viking Age settlement. The settlement consisted of a farm complex that was likely active during the ninth and tenth centuries; finds from the site such as silver hoards and elaborate jewelry indicate that the farm was likely prosperous, a conjecture which is supported by the extremely fertile land surrounding the area. Artifacts were found in the vicinity of the Hesselbjerg and Randlev sites as early as 1932 when a local farmer discovered a silver hoard, but serious excavations were not conducted until 1963. These excavations ended in 1970; however, Moesgård Museum returned to the site in 1997 and continued analysis until 2010.
The Presbyterian Burying Ground, also known as the Old Presbyterian Burying Ground, was a historic cemetery which existed between 1802 and 1909 in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., in the United States. It was one of the most prominent cemeteries in the city until the 1860s. Burials there tapered significantly after Oak Hill Cemetery was founded nearby in 1848. The Presbyterian Burying Ground closed to new burials in 1887, and about 500 to 700 bodies were disinterred after 1891 when an attempt was made to demolish the cemetery and use the land for housing. The remaining graves fell into extensive disrepair. After a decade of effort, the District of Columbia purchased the cemetery in 1909 and built Volta Park there, leaving nearly 2,000 bodies buried at the site. Occasional human remains and tombstones have been discovered at the park since its construction. A number of figures important in the early history of Georgetown and Washington, D.C., military figures, politicians, merchants, and others were buried at Presbyterian Burying Ground.