Graveyard

Graveyard
Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ode to the Flesh Eater

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

A sarcophagus is a receptacle to house a corpse, usually carved from stone.  The word is from a Greek phrase, “lithos sarkophagos,” meaning flesh-eating stone, named after a type of limestone whose caustic properties helped to speed the deterioration of a dead body.  Actually, most sarcophagi preserved the bodies they held, but for some reason, the term stuck.

Sarcophagi, used in ancient Egypt and later by the Greeks and Romans, were used mostly to serve as burial containers above ground, sometimes by themselves, sometimes inside a crypt or mausoleum.  Since they were meant to be seen, they were usually extensively carved, with beautiful sculpture and symbols. With the rise of Christianity, however, burial underground became the norm, and the use of sarcophagi was no longer necessary.  Christians still used sarcophagi inside their European cathedrals, usually for kings or queens in the major churches, and for wealthy landowners and patrons of the smaller parish churches.  Many times, these European sarcophagi were adorned on the top with a sculptured reposing figure of the deceased.

In 19th century American cemeteries, the revivals of Classical and Greek art and architecture brought a renewed interest in sarcophagi.  They were used by mostly wealthy people to serve as elaborate gravestone monuments, but with one major difference---the corpses were not interred inside, but underground.

According to Douglas Keister in Stories in Stone, the 19th century saw a number of variations on the typical Egyptian, Greek or Roman sarcophagi.  Some of them may look familiar, some may inspire awe for their artistic qualities, and some may not look like sarcophagi at all.  Basically a sarcophagus tombstone looks big enough to hold a body within its structure, though true sarcophagi have "legs" or tapered bases.  I’ll do my best to identify the pictures of ones I have collected below:


Chest Tomb---the simplest form, with inscription usually on top, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

















Chest Tomb with Mourning Cloth, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Chest Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA


Chest Tomb, Milford Cemetery, Milford, PA

Chest Tomb, St. Luke's UCC Cemetery, Ottsville, PA

Chest Tomb with Urn & Eternal Flame, St, Michael's Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Sellersville, PA

Chest Tomb, Deep Run Presbyterian Cemetery, Bedminster, PA

Chest Tomb, Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

Chest Tomb, Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

Chest Tomb, Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

Chest Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Chest Tomb, St. Peter's Episcopal Cemetery, Lewes, DE

Chest Tomb with Mourning Cloth, St. Peter's Episcopal Cemetery, Lewes, DE

Hip Tomb---2- or 4-sided hipped roofs either on top of a chest tomb,
or simply by themselves, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA


Hip Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Hip Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Hip Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Hip Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Hip Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Gothic Hip Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Low Altar Tomb, Montgomery Baptist Cemetery, Montgomeryville,PA

Hip Tombs, Montgomery Cemetery, Norristown, PA

Altar Tomb for a Child, Neshaminy Presbyterian Cemetery, Warrington PA


Hip Tomb, St. Thomas Whitemarsh Cemetery, Fort Washington, PA




Hip Tomb in shape of Cross, St. Thomas Whitemarsh Cemetery, Fort Washington, PA

Altar Tombs, Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

Hip Tombs, Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

Altar Tombs, Laurel Hill Cemetery, PA

Hip Tombs, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

In-ground Vault (in shape of Hip Tomb) with classically influenced Sarcophagus in back, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA

In-ground Vault with classically inspired Altar Tomb behind it, Doylestown Cemetery, Doylestown, PA

Classically inspired Sarcophagus, Dunmore Cemetery, Dunmore, PA

Loosely classical Altar Tomb, Dunmore Cemetery, Dunmore, PA

Altar Tomb with classical columns, multi-hipped roof, Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

Oh my!  Ornate Sarcophagus with cherubs and claw-feet, Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

Altar Tomb with classical double pilasters (flattened columns) and hipped roof, Morrisville Cemetery, Morrisville, PA

Hip Tomb, Morrisville Cemetery, Morrisville, PA

Hip Tomb with Mourning Figure, St. Michael's Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Sellersville, PA

Altar Tomb, Dunmore Cemetery, Dunmore, PA

Gothic Altar Tomb, some iron in this making it "rust", Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

Gothic Altar Tomb, Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

Altar Tomb, Glen Dyberry Cemetery, Honesdale, PA

I'm getting one of these!  Stunning Gothic Altar Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Strangely tilted Chest Tomb, Hickory Grove Cemetery, Waverly, PA

Altar Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Multi-Hip Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Altar Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Altar Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Gothic Altar Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA


Gothic Multi-Hipped Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Sarcophagus, based on Napoleon's, under a Canopy, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Altar Tomb with Mourning Figure, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Sarcophagus, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Altar Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Altar Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Altar Tomb with classical columns, Reigelsville Cemetery, Reigelsville, PA

Altar Tomb, Stockport Cemetery, Stockport, PA

Altar Tomb, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA

Sarcophagus with claw feet, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Table Tomb, sometimes a sarcophagus is placed under the legs, Christ Church Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Table Tomb, Christ Lutheran Church, Harleysville, PA

Table Tomb, Jeffersonville Presbyterian Cemetery, Jeffersonville, PA

Table Tomb, Neshaminy Presbyterian Cemetery, Warrington, PA

Table Tombs, Abington Presbyterian Cemetery, Abington, PA

Table Tomb, Doylestown Presbyterian Cemetery, Doylestown, PA

Table Tomb, Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

Table Tomb, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Table Tomb, New Britain Baptist Cemetery, New Britain, PA

Table Tomb, Newtown Presbyterian Cemetery, Newtown, PA

Table Tomb with Lambs, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA

Table Tombs, Newtown Presbyterian Cemetery, Newtown, PA


Chest Tomb with Reclining Child on top, under Canopy, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Sarcophagus under Canopy, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

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