These days, gravestones symbolise many things. It can be a memorial marker for your loved ones who passed, it can serve as a status symbol for the wealthy or it can be a religious ritual symbol. Gravestones began in its primitive stage, advancing to form a symbolic meaning and even portray art. Today, memorial gardens offer a peaceful resting place for the dead and a reflection area for the living, says Centenarymemorialgardens.com.au.
Historians discovered the oldest known grave marker that existed during 3,000 to 4,000 B.C. The markers were called chamber tombs or dolmens and were a type of megalithic tribute. The dolmen, according to Unesco.org, is not a single stone, but a whole burial chamber. It’s made of huge stones placed on top of each other to form a chamber and cover the grave.
Back when cemeteries didn’t exist, people just made burial plots near their homes. They would mark the graves with wood, rough stones or rocks to prevent the dead from rising again. They indicated the name of the deceased, age and year of death in the grave markers.
Burials in the vicinities of churches evolved. They used to bury the deceased in large, square-shaped tombstones made of slate then sandstone. The inscription carved on the slate was shallow but readable.
In the 19th century, people started to give more importance to headstones, gravestones or foot stones to honour the deceased. They started to engrave headstones with a small inscription about the deceased written by loved ones, or a famous quote. They still included the name of the deceased, birth date and the date they died.
When the Victorian era came, customs and traditions introduced extravagant headstones and tombstones. The cemeteries back then resembled parks because of the elaborately decorated gravestones.
They usually made gravestones out of granite, marble, wood and iron. They even had artwork, sculptures and symbols. By this time, only upper and middle classes could afford such lavish memorials.
In this day and age, humanity still gives honour to the deceased through epitaphs. It doesn’t only symbolise rituals, but also shows love.