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vault or chamber constructed either partly or entirely above ground as a place of interment. Although it is often used as a synonym for gravegrave,
space excavated in the earth or rock for the burial of a corpse. When a grave is marked by a protective or memorial structure it is often referred to as a tomb. See burial; funeral customs.
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, the word is derived from the Greek tymbos [burial ground]. It may also designate a memorial shrine erected above a grave. The concept of the tomb as a chamber or dwelling place for the dead is the most widespread. It may have originated in the practice, known in prehistoric times and common among so-called primitive peoples of today, of burying the dead underneath their place of dwelling. Sometimes the survivors continue to live in the house; sometimes they seal and abandon it after a burial. This may account for the recurrence in different periods and places of the domed or conical funeral mounds and chambers (such as the prehistoric barrowbarrow,
in archaeology, a burial mound. Earth and stone or timber are the usual construction materials; in parts of SE Asia stone and brick have entirely replaced earth. A barrow built primarily of stone is often called a cairn.
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, the beehive tomb of Mycenaean civilizationMycenaean civilization
, an ancient Aegean civilization known from the excavations at Mycenae and other sites. They were first undertaken by Heinrich Schliemann and others after 1876, and they helped to revise the early history of Greece. Divided into Early Helladic (c.
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, the mausoleummausoleum
, a sepulchral structure or tomb, especially one of some size and architectural pretension, so called from the sepulcher of that name at Halicarnassus, Asia Minor, erected (c.352 B.C.) in memory of Mausolus of Caria.
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 of Persian and Roman royalty, and the stupastupa
[Sanskrit,=mound], Buddhist monument in tumulus, or mound, form, often containing relics. The words tope and dagoba are synonymous, though the latter properly refers only to a Sinhalese Buddhist stupa.
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 of Asia) and of the artificial caves commonly called rock-cut tombs (such as those found in Petra, Jordan; Thebes, Egypt; and in various parts of Asia). When corpses were buried outside the house, the purpose of protecting the body and possibly confining the spirit was often served by heaping stones above the grave. This may have been the initial structure that gave rise to the mastabamastaba
, in Egyptian architecture, a sepulchral structure built aboveground. The mastabas of the early dynastic period (3200–2680 B.C.), such as those of the I dynasty at Sakkara, were elaborate, having many storage or offering compartments, and were quite evidently close
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 and later to the pyramidpyramid.
The true pyramid exists only in Egypt and Sudan, though the term has also been applied to similar structures in other countries. Egyptian pyramids are square in plan and their triangular sides, which directly face the points of the compass, slope upwards at
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 of Egypt. Such heaps of stones also served as markers or shrines where offerings might be left to the spirits of the dead. Christian tombs, relatively simple at first, had by the Middle Ages become quite splendid. It became the custom to build a church over the grave of a martyr. For centuries, kings and other privileged persons were buried within the church buildings, their graves often surmounted by a little shrine or by a sarcophagussarcophagus
[Gr.,=flesh-eater], name given by the Greeks to a special marble found in Asia Minor, near the territory of ancient Troy, and used in caskets. It was believed to have the property of destroying the entire body, except for the teeth, within a few weeks.
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 bearing an effigy of the deceased. In Great Britain many important personages have been entombed in Westminster AbbeyWestminster Abbey,
originally the abbey church of a Benedictine monastery (closed in 1539) in London. One of England's most important Gothic structures, it is also a national shrine. The first church on the site is believed to date from early in the 7th cent.
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. Famous funerary structures of modern times include the Taj MahalTaj Mahal
, mausoleum, Agra, Uttar Pradesh state, N India, on the Yamuna River. It is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and the finest example of the late style of Indian Islamic architecture.
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, at Agra, India; the Dôme des InvalidesInvalides, Hôtel des
, celebrated landmark of Paris, France, built (1671–76) by Libéral Bruant as a hospital for disabled veterans. One of the most imposing examples of French classical architecture, it now houses a military museum.
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, Paris, which contains the tomb of Napoleon; General Grant's tomb, New York City; and the Lenin mausoleum, Moscow. See burialburial,
disposal of a corpse in a grave or tomb. The first evidence of deliberate burial was found in European caves of the Paleolithic period. Prehistoric discoveries include both individual and communal burials, the latter indicating that pits or ossuaries were unsealed for
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; cemeterycemetery,
name used by early Christians to designate a place for burying the dead. First applied in Christian burials in the Roman catacombs, the word cemetery came into general usage in the 15th cent.
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; cryptcrypt
[Gr.,=hidden], vault or chamber beneath the main level of a church, used as a meeting place or burial place. It undoubtedly developed from the catacombs used by early Christians as places of worship. Early churches were commonly built over the tombs of martyrs.
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; funeral customsfuneral customs,
rituals surrounding the death of a human being and the subsequent disposition of the corpse. Such rites may serve to mark the passage of a person from life into death, to secure the welfare of the dead, to comfort the living, and to protect the living from the
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In architecture, a memorial structure over or beside a grave.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an architectural structure, or sarcophagus, containing the body of a dead person as distinguished from a monument erected over a grave. Monumental burial structures that serve as tombs are called mausoleums.

Tombs perpetuate in monumental architectural form and durable building materials the memory of a deceased person (originally, mainly a ruler) and by artistic means glorify his deeds. Such tombs as this are the immense ancient Egyptian pyramids, suggesting the grandeur and immortality of the divine pharaoh, and the mastabas for burying the nobility, as well as the Mycenaean vaulted tombs and the rock tombs in India, the Near East, and Etruria. A unique complex of tombs of the second and third centuries with carefully worked facades (exhibiting an original interpretation of elements of the Roman order) is found in Petra, the capital of the Nabatain Kingdom (Jordan). Cenotaphs are widespread among many peoples. Beginning in the fourth century B.C. the tendency to commemorate individual persons was expressed in monumental architectural structures in the Hellenistic world (the mausoleum, that is, the tomb of Mausolus, the king of Caria, in Halicarnassus). In their variety of form and dimension the tombs of ancient Rome are of great interest, for example, the tomb of Cecilia Metella and of Eurysakes (both from the first century B.C.), the tomb of the emperor Augustus (A.D. 28). and the tomb of the emperor Hadrian (A.D. 135–140). The monumental tombs of China and Korea are noteworthy for their skillful blend of architectural forms and for their wealth of sculptural decoration. Striking decorations, multicolored incrustations of gems and of glazed tiles are characteristic of the domed tombs of India (the Taj Mahal at Agra) and Central Asia (the Gur-Amir in Samarkand).

In Western Europe tombs were placed inside churches. European tombs usually include the recumbent sculptured figure of the deceased on the sarcophagus. Tombs of the early Middle Ages typically have little decoration, and the figure of the deceased is portrayed in a stylized manner. Later, forms and decoration gradually became more complex. Elaborate, sometimes arched, canopies were erected over the sarcophagi and numerous statues—of the Virgin, angels and mourners—were introduced, as well as reliefs with many figures. There was a striving after likeness in portraiture; at first outward resemblance was sought and. later, a vividly expressive likeness conveying the unique features of a particular personality (the tombs of the Medici by Michelangelo in the Medici chapel of the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence. 1520–34). In 17th-century tombs strength of feeling and sincerity give way to an incongruous mingling of fantastic and real images, mannered expression, and virtuosity in the working of materials, as exemplified by the tombs of the Italian artist L. Bernini in St. Peter’s Church in Rome.

In the 18th and 19th centuries tombs become more severe in form and decoration, such as the mausoleum in Berlin-Charlottenburg and the tomb of M. I. Kutuzov in the Kazan Cathedral in Leningrad. The V. I. Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow is an example of the tomb architecture of our time.

M. B. MIKHAILOVA [7–1014–2; updated]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


In architecture, a memorial structure over or beside a grave.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
It is an area continuously inhabited for four thousand years, and the discovery of ancient tombs and sarcophagi proves this to be true," he said.
Shounaz Mekky An Egyptian archaeologist restoring a wooden sacrophagus at a newly-uncovered ancient tomb in Luxor.
She remembers an unforgettable camel ride, a trip to the ancient tomb of Queen Qalhata and a bizarre beauty treatment involving an intimate incense bath.
Highlights of her trip of a lifetime include riding a camel named Charlie Brown to Egypt's most famous landmark, the pyramids at Giza, her tour of the ancient tomb of Kushite Queen Qalhata in Sudan, filled with fascinating hieroglyphics, and undergoing a Sudanese beauty treatment that involved sitting over a charcoal fire.
AN ancient tomb on Anglesey will be excavated this summer as part of a two-week long archeology event.
They are hunted by the Nazis on motorbikes, they are attacked by wolves, they hide in an ancient tomb of a long dead warrior princess and escape, driving her chariot.
ATHENS, Greece -- Human bones found in a resplendent ancient tomb in northern Greece belong to at least five individuals, including an elderly woman and a baby, Greek officials said Monday.
The ancient tomb dates back to 300-325 BC and was located at the Kastas hill in Amphipolis, reported ( The Telegraph ( .
Amphipolis, Greece, Muharram 29, 1436, Nov 22, 2014, SPA -- The identity of a skeleton found in northern Greece in an ancient tomb dating from the time of Alexander the Great might never be known, Greek archaeologists said Saturday, according to dpa.
In Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, Sonic and his friends encounter an ancient tomb sealed deep within an island, where the powerful, snake-like villain Lyric is released.
After months of searching, they finally discover an ancient tomb that holds the answers they seek.
The dig is now in the second room of a vast ancient tomb in Amphipolis in northern Greece.

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