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Tomb

tombs, dead, examples, stone, sarcophagus, churches and simple

TOMB, a vault, cavity, niche, excavation or chamber to receive the dead body of a human being; also the monument to his memory, or the combined structure that answers both of these purposes. Among Eastern peo ples it early became the practice to place the remains of the dead in excavated chambers or in case the dead bodies were first burnt, to place urns, containing the ashes in such chambers. These structures even in times of great antiquity were decorated within or with out with appropriate inscriptions. Early tombs often bore character writing, telling of the parentage and the place of residence, perhaps the station of life, of the deceased, and, in the case of heroes, the history of achievement was in all likelihood carved on the walls of the structure. Rude peoples whose only means of written expression was by picture-writing have employed that language to tell of the exploits of dead. Tombs are often designed to contain the remains of more than one person, and of such were the Roman columbarium and the Egyptian pyramids. With some races tombs were made elaborate objects of art; with others, such as the Greeks, they were highly artistic but simple and tasteful. The stele or flat stone set up to mark a grave was often highly carved, and the stele of Dexileos in Athens is famous. Large edifices built as monuments to the dead are not found in Greece,. but were common in the semi-Greek lands of Asia, the most noted being that of King Mauso lus of Caria, whence comes the term mauso- • leum (q.v.). Roman monuments were of great splendor, as is attested by the few examples remaining to the present time. They were often of large proportions, the so-called aCastle oi Saint Angelo° being nothing else than the tomb of the Emperor Hadrian and his succes sors, ((stripped of its sculptures, its marble colonnade, its probable conical superstructure,* and crowded with defensive works that make of it a veritable citadel. Other tombs of 'great splendor are found outside of the walls of Rome and although despoiled and in some in stances subverted to the purposes of other, adjacent architectures, they testify to the wealth and the artistic attention which the Romans bestowed on them. Pompeii, too, had its long

street of magnificent tombs, which has been partially uncovered outside the limits of the city proper. In portions of Italy and in some of the older Spanish-American towns burials in the cemeteries were made in niches which rose row above row, terrace-like. In the niches rested coffins bearing the bodies. Burial in churches was prohibited during die earlier cen turies of Christianity, but from the custom of erecting churches or chapels over graves of martyrs the custom arose to bury monarchs under the cover of the church, and the most important tombs of the Middle Ages are gen erally so situated. The earlier examples con sist of a simple stone coffin or sarcophagus. often with a low, gabled lid and a sculptured cross. Following these come the altar-tombs, in the form of a table, and subsequently, in the 13th century, a species of tomb consisting of a sarcophagus bearing a recumbent figure of the deceased, the whole surmounted by a canopy, often of exquisite beauty of design. Still more stable are the churchyard tombs of which fine examples are seen in the tombs of La Scala in the churchyard of Santa Maria Antica in Verona.- The tombs of the Renaissance period became more and more complex. The sar cophagus was disguised and subordinated to the decorations of sculptured upholstery and groups of symbolical or mythological figures. Immedi ately following the Middle Ages the beauty and value of the statuary employed partly compen sated for the loss of architectural xlesign, as is the case in Michelangelo's tombs; but in suc ceeding years this redeeming feature was lost and tomb architecture rapidly declined. The tomb placed in i niche in a church naturally suggested the memorial tablets of more recent years. The tomb of the Virgin Mary is vene rated near Jerusalem, in the Cedron Valley. The sepulcher is completely below the present ground level, and is reached by a stone stair way descending 48 steps. Consult the pamphlet by Jean Baptiste Christyn, (Les tombeaux des hommes illustr6s,) etc. (1674) ; and the paper by L. S. Mercier, (Le tombe di Verona) in (Teatro italiano modern& (Vol. II, 1792).