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Tomb of I'timad-ud-Daulah from Agra Tomb of Itmaduddaulah.jpg
Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah from Agra
Tomb of Akbar in Akbar's Tomb Akbar's Tomb 13.jpg
Tomb of Akbar in Akbar's Tomb
A type of tomb: a mausoleum in Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Perelachaise-p1000391.jpg
A type of tomb: a mausoleum in Père Lachaise Cemetery.
The Pyramid tomb of Khufu Cheops pyramid 01.jpg
The Pyramid tomb of Khufu
The Ohel, gravesite of the Lubavitcher Rebbes Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn and Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and a place of pilgrimage, prayer, and meditation Ahl hrby mlyvbAvvytSH mbpnym.JPG
The Ohel, gravesite of the Lubavitcher Rebbes Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn and Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and a place of pilgrimage, prayer, and meditation
Tombs and sarcophagi at Hierapolis Sarcophagi-and-thumbs.jpg
Tombs and sarcophagi at Hierapolis
Tomb of the Mannerheim Family in Askainen, Masku, Finland Askainen church 2016 21.jpg
Tomb of the Mannerheim Family in Askainen, Masku, Finland
Hussain's tomb (shrine), in Karbala, Iraq Imam Hossein Holly Shrine01 (cropped).jpg
Hussain's tomb (shrine), in Karbala, Iraq

A tomb (Greek : τύμβοςtumbos [1] ) 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 cremation or burial.



The word is used in a broad sense to encompass a number of such types of places of interment or, occasionally, burial, including:

As indicated, tombs are generally located in or under religious buildings, such as churches, or in cemeteries or churchyards. However, they may also be found in catacombs, on private land or, in the case of early or pre-historic tombs, in what is today open landscape.

The Daisen Kofun, the tomb of Emperor Nintoku (the 16th Emperor of Japan), is the largest in the world by area. [3] However, the Pyramid of Khufu in Egypt is the largest by volume.

See also

Notable examples:

Related Research Articles

Emperor Nintoku Emperor of Japan

Emperor Nintoku, also known as Ohosazaki no Sumeramikoto (大鷦鷯天皇) was the 16th legendary Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.

Cemetery Place of burial

A cemetery, burial ground 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.

Catacombs of Rome Church building in Rome, Italy

The Catacombs of Rome are ancient catacombs, underground burial places in and around Rome, of which there are at least forty, some rediscovered only in recent decades. Though most famous for Christian burials, either in separate catacombs or mixed together, Jews and also adherents of a variety of pagan Roman religions were buried in catacombs, beginning in the 2nd century AD, occasioned by the ancient Roman ban on burials within a city, and also as a response to overcrowding and shortage of land. The most extensive and perhaps the best known is the Christian Catacomb of Callixtus located near the Park of the Caffarella, but there are other sites, both Christian and not, scattered around the city, some of which are now engulfed in the modern urban sprawl.

Mausoleum Monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or people

A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or people. A monument without the interment is a cenotaph. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb, or the tomb may be considered to be within the mausoleum.

Grave Burial location of a dead body

A grave is a location where a dead body is buried. Graves are usually located in special areas set aside for the purpose of burial, such as graveyards or cemeteries.

Tumulus Mound of earth and stones raised over graves

A tumulus is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds or kurgans, and may be found throughout much of the world. A cairn, which is a mound of stones built for various purposes, may also originally have been a tumulus.

Gallery grave Form of megalithic tomb

A gallery grave is a form of megalithic tomb built primarily during the Neolithic Age in Europe in which the main gallery of the tomb is entered without first passing through an antechamber or hallway. There are at least four major types of gallery grave, and they may be covered with an earthen mound or rock mound.


Kofun are megalithic tombs or tumuli in Northeast Asia. Kofun were mainly constructed in the Japanese archipelago between the middle of the 3rd century to the early 7th century CE.

Burial vault (tomb) Underground container for burial

A burial vault is a structural underground tomb. It houses the casket and protects them through a lined, sealed container. A burial vault shields the casket from maintenance equipment and resists water. Different levels of burial vaults are offered, such as premium, basic, and standard protection.

Qianling Mausoleum Ancient site in Qianxian, Shaanxi, China

The Qianling Mausoleum is a Tang dynasty (618–907) tomb site located in Qian County, Shaanxi province, China, and is 85 km (53 mi) northwest from Xi'an. Built in 684, the tombs of the mausoleum complex house the remains of various members of the House of Li, the imperial family of the Tang dynasty. This includes Emperor Gaozong, as well as his wife, Wu Zetian, who assumed the Tang throne and became China's only reigning female emperor from 690–705. The mausoleum is renowned for its many Tang dynasty stone statues located above ground and the mural paintings adorning the subterranean walls of the tombs. Besides the main tumulus mound and underground tomb of Emperor Gaozong and Wu Zetian, there are 17 smaller attendant tombs, or peizang mu. Presently, only five of these attendant tombs have been excavated by archaeologists, three belonging to members of the imperial family, one to a chancellor, and the other to a general of the left guard. The Shaanxi Administration of Cultural Heritage declared in 2012 that no further excavations would take place for at least 50 years.

Funerary art Art associated with a repository for the remains of the dead

Funerary art is any work of art forming, or placed in, a repository for the remains of the dead. The term encompasses a wide variety of forms, including cenotaphs, tomb-like monuments which do not contain human remains, and communal memorials to the dead, such as war memorials, which may or may not contain remains, and a range of prehistoric megalithic constructs. Funerary art may serve many cultural functions. It can play a role in burial rites, serve as an article for use by the dead in the afterlife, and celebrate the life and accomplishments of the dead, whether as part of kinship-centred practices of ancestor veneration or as a publicly directed dynastic display. It can also function as a reminder of the mortality of humankind, as an expression of cultural values and roles, and help to propitiate the spirits of the dead, maintaining their benevolence and preventing their unwelcome intrusion into the lives of the living.

Necropolis Large ancient cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments

A necropolis is a large, designed cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments. The name stems from the Ancient Greek νεκρόπολις nekropolis, literally meaning "city of the dead".

City of London Cemetery and Crematorium Cemetery and crematorium in the north east of London, England

The City of London Cemetery and Crematorium is a cemetery and crematorium in the east of London. It is owned and operated by the City of London Corporation. It is designated Grade I on the Historic England National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

Vatican Necropolis Part of Vatican City

The Vatican Necropolis lies under the Vatican City, at depths varying between 5–12 metres below Saint Peter's Basilica. The Vatican sponsored archaeological excavations under Saint Peter's in the years 1940–1949 which revealed parts of a necropolis dating to Imperial times. The work was undertaken at the request of Pope Pius XI who wished to be buried as close as possible to Peter the Apostle. It is also home to the Tomb of the Julii, which has been dated to the third or fourth century. The necropolis was not originally one of the Catacombs of Rome, but an open air cemetery with tombs and mausolea.

Mausoleum of Shaohao

The Mausoleum of Shaohao is located in the north-east of Jiuxian Village, on the eastern outskirts of the city of Qufu in Shandong Province, China. The mausoleum complex honours Shaohao, the son of the first mythical Chinese ruler and one of the mythical five emperors himself.

Mozu Tombs Megalithic tombs in Japan

The Mozu Tombs are a group of megalithic tombs in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, Japan. Originally consisting of more than 100 tombs, only less than 50% of the key-hole, round and rectangular tombs remain.

Martyrium Church or shrine built over the tomb of a Christian martyr

A martyrium (Latin) or martyrion (Greek), plural martyria, sometimes anglicized martyry, is a church or shrine built over the tomb of a Christian martyr. It is associated with a specific architectural form, centered on a central element and thus built on a central plan, that is, of a circular or sometimes octagonal or cruciform shape.

There are two tumuli at Marathon, Greece. One is a burial mound, or "Soros" that houses the ashes of 192 Athenians who fell during the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. The other houses the inhumed bodies of the Plataeans who fell during that same battle. The burial mound dominates the plain of Marathon, where the eponymous battle took place, along with the tumulus of the Plataeans, and a victory column erected by the Athenians to commemorate their victory over Darius' Persian expedition. The tumulus is encompassed in a park today.

Matsuoka Kofun Cluster

The Matsuoka Kofun Cluster is a group kofun burial mounds located in what is now part of the town of Eiheiji, Fukui in the Hokuriku region of Japan. The site was designated a National Historic Site of Japan in 1977 in the case of the Tegurigajoyama Kofun, the largest of the group. Protection was extended to the remainder of the group in July 2005.


  1. τύμβος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  2. Morana, Martin (2011). Bejn Kliem u Storja (in Maltese). Malta: Books Distributors Limited. p. 211. ISBN   978-99957-0137-6. Archived from the original on 10 October 2016.
  3. Merueñas, Mark (4 November 2012). "Where emperors sleep: Japan's keyhole-shaped burial mounds". GMA News Online. Retrieved 11 January 2017. The Nintoku-ryo tumulus is one of almost 50 tumuli collectively known as "Mozu Kofungun" clustered around the city, and covers the largest area of any tomb in the world.