tomb

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tomb

tomb, vault or chamber constructed either partly or entirely above ground as a place of interment. Although it is often used as a synonym for grave, 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 barrow, the beehive tomb of Mycenaean civilization, the mausoleum of Persian and Roman royalty, and the stupa 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 mastaba and later to the pyramid 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 sarcophagus bearing an effigy of the deceased. In Great Britain many important personages have been entombed in Westminster Abbey. Famous funerary structures of modern times include the Taj Mahal, at Agra, India; the Dôme des Invalides, Paris, which contains the tomb of Napoleon; General Grant's tomb, New York City; and the Lenin mausoleum, Moscow. See burial; cemetery; crypt; funeral customs.
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Tomb

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.

Tomb

 

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.

tomb

In architecture, a memorial structure over or beside a grave.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.