A tomb (from Greek : τύμβοςtumbos) 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.
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.
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.
Cremation is a method of final disposition wherein combustion, vaporization, and oxidation turns cadavers to basic chemical compounds, such as gases, ashes and mineral fragments retaining the appearance of dry bone. Cremation may serve as a funeral or post-funeral rite as an alternative to the burial or interment of an intact dead body. Cremated remains, which do not constitute a health risk, may be buried or interred in memorial sites or cemeteries, or they may be retained by relatives and dispersed in various ways. Cremation is an alternative in place of burial or other forms of disposal in funeral practices. Some families prefer to have the deceased present at the funeral with cremation to follow; others prefer that the cremation occur prior to the funeral or memorial service.
The word is used in a broad sense to encompass a number of such types of places of interment or, occasionally, burial, including:
A shrine is a holy or sacred place, which is dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, hero, martyr, saint, daemon, or similar figure of awe and respect, at which they are venerated or worshipped. Shrines often contain idols, relics, or other such objects associated with the figure being venerated. A shrine at which votive offerings are made is called an altar.
Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the merciful Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament. It is the world's largest religion with over 2.4 billion followers, with its followers affirming that Jesus is the Logos, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew scriptures and chronicled in the New Testament.
A saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness or likeness or closeness to God. However, the use of the term "saint" depends on the context and denomination. In Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Oriental Orthodox, and Lutheran doctrine, all of their faithful deceased in Heaven are considered to be saints, but some are considered worthy of greater honor or emulation; official ecclesiastical recognition, and consequently veneration, is given to some saints through the process of canonization in the Catholic Church or glorification in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
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.
Catacombs are human-made subterranean passageways for religious practice. Any chamber used as a burial place is a catacomb, although the word is most commonly associated with the Roman Empire.
The Daisen Kofun, the tomb of Emperor Nintoku (the 16th Emperor of Japan), is the largest in the world by area.However, the Pyramid of Khufu in Egypt is the largest by volume.
The Daisen Kofun is a burial mound in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, Japan. The mound, or kofun, is considered to be the largest grave in the world by area. The Daisen Kofun is part of a larger complex of tombs known as the Mozu tombs spread across Sakai City.
Emperor Nintoku, also known as Ohosazaki no Sumeramikoto (大鷦鷯天皇) was the 16th Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.
Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.
A cadaver tomb or transi is a type of gisant featuring an effigy in the form of a decomposing corpse; it was particularly characteristic of the later Middle Ages.
Death in Norse paganism was associated with varying customs and beliefs. Not only could a Viking funeral be performed a number of ways, the idea of the soul was associated with various notions, as well as of where the dead went in their afterlife, such as Valhalla, Fólkvangr, Hel, Gimle, Andlang, Vidblain, Brimir, Sindri, and Helgafjell.
A church monument is an architectural or sculptural memorial to a deceased person or persons, located within a Christian church. It can take various forms ranging from a simple commemorative plaque or mural tablet affixed to a wall, to a large and elaborate structure, on the ground or as a mural monument, which may include an effigy of the deceased person and other figures of familial, heraldic or symbolic nature. It is usually placed immediately above or close to the actual burial vault or grave, although very occasionally the tomb is constructed within it. Sometimes the monument is a cenotaph, commemorating a person buried at another location.
Saqqara, also spelled Sakkara or Saccara in English, is a vast, ancient burial ground in Egypt, serving as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. Saqqara features numerous pyramids, including the world-famous Step pyramid of Djoser, sometimes referred to as the Step Tomb due to its rectangular base, as well as a number of mastabas. Located some 30 km (19 mi) south of modern-day Cairo, Saqqara covers an area of around 7 by 1.5 km.
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 crypt is a stone chamber beneath the floor of a church or other building. It typically contains coffins, sarcophagi, or religious relics.
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.
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.
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.
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 Japan, constructed between the early 3rd century and the early 7th century AD. The term Kofun is the origin of the name of the Kofun period, which indicates the middle 3rd century to early-middle 6th century. Many Kofun have distinctive keyhole-shaped mounds, which are unique to ancient Japan. The Mozu-Furuichi kofungun or tumulus clusters have been proposed for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List, while Ishibutai Kofun is one of a number in Asuka-Fujiwara similarly residing on the Tentative List.
A burial vault is a structural underground tomb.
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, formerly the Tang capital. Built by 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 usurped 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 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.
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".
The City of London Cemetery and Crematorium is a cemetery and crematorium in the east of London. It is the second largest such municipal facility in the UK; Roselawn Cemetery in Northern Ireland, run by Belfast City Council, is approximately 280 acres in size, with its own crematorium.
The Vatican Necropolis lies under the Vatican City, at depths varying between 5–12 metres below Saint Peter's Basilica. The Vatican sponsored archeological 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 underground Catacombs of Rome, but an open air cemetery with tombs and mausolea.
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 kofungun (百舌鳥古墳群) is a group of kofun or tumuli in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, Japan. Originally consisting of more than 100 tombs, less than 50% of the key-hole, round and rectangular tombs remain.
Kilmun Parish Church and Argyll Mausoleum in Kilmun on the Cowal Peninsula, Scotland, consists of St Munn's Church, as well as the adjacent mausoleum of the Dukes of Argyll and a historically significant churchyard. The complex is located on the summit of a slight knoll about ten metres from the shoreline of the Holy Loch. The existing church dates from 1841 and occupies the site of an older, medieval church. A partly ruined tower from the medieval period still stands to the west of the present building.
Durbi Takusheyi is a burial site and major archaeological landmark situated about 32 km east of Katsina in northern Nigeria. The burials of the early Katsina rulers span a 200 year period from the 13th / 14th century AD to the 15th / 16th century AD. The recovered sets of artifacts provide material historical clues as to the emergence of Hausa identity and city states. The grave goods comprise a local, indigenous component besides foreign elements which attest to networks that reached far into the Islamic Near East. Katsina represented a focal point for trans-Saharan trade during the late middle ages, a crucial phase in local history during which the Hausa city states emerged.
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 BCE. 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.
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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.