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a sculptural work or a small architectural form. Its purpose is to perpetuate the memory of the deceased on whose grave it is erected (in contrast to a tomb, in which the body of the deceased is enclosed, or to a cenotaph).

In Neolithic cultures, graves were marked by wooden pillars (menhirs). In ancient Greece, statues and stelae portraying the deceased were erected over the grave. In Europe during the early Middle Ages, with the spread of Christianity, the low-relief stelae characteristic of the period of the Great Migrations were replaced by crosses. Beginning in the 11th century the most common type of gravestone in Western Europe was an empty stone or bronze box, covered with a slab bearing a portrait of the deceased in the form of a relief, an engraving, or a statue; it was placed above the grave, usually inside a church. Stone slabs with carved ornaments were common in the medieval period in the Caucasus. Chinese gravestones—vertical slabs on which names rather than portraits were carved—gradually became freestanding memorial walls.

During the Renaissance, gravestones, as a rule, were replaced by sepulchers. During the 17th and 18th centuries, portraits on gravestones were often combined with symbols of the transience of life on earth and with allegorical figures; inscriptions acquired a more important role in the overall composition. From the late 18th century to the early 19th, gravestones were usually erected not in churches but in cemeteries, forming what might be considered gravestone museums.

Since the second half of the 19th century, the religious and didactic nature of gravestones has gradually diminished, and the only ornament on the grave has been a portrait of the deceased or a terse emblem, having a purely commemorative purpose.


Netunakhina, G. D. , and N. I. Udimova. Muzei gorodskoi skul’ptury: Kratkii putevoditel’. Leningrad, 1972.
s’Jacob, N. Idealism and Realism: A Study of Sepulchral Symbolism. Amsterdam, 1954.
Panofsky, E. Tomb Plastik. London, 1955.


References in periodicals archive ?
We've returned one hundred years later, as we can see from some of the gravestones that have been preserved," said mayor of the village Peter Buro, as quoted by My Levice.
But local people are now worried that the gravestones are being forgotten about and left disrespectfully.
Lumish's regular job is specialty cleaning, but he never cleaned gravestones before undertaking this mission.
I'm not people gravestones, found it quite that they like Ed One resident recently noticed one area of the cemetery features a line of gravestones laid flat in a line, near the non-conformist chapel.
There have been incidents in the city where people have been hit by falling gravestones.
The ugly yellow and black metal clamps were slapped on 28 gravestones due to health and safety fears.
A MILLIONAIRE has lined the walls of the home where hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful was written with children's gravestones.
The tiny Polish town of Pilica hides an infuriating secret: Homeowners who lived in the town after World War II used Jewish gravestones to build an outhouse and parts of their home, apparently in an effort to defile the memory of the Jews.
More than 70 gravestones at the Russian Orthodox and Serbian Orthodox sections of the Sydney's Rookwood cemetery were vandalised approximately between 9 pm on Dec 9 and 6 am on Dec 10.
The 90-minute presentation is built on photographs recently taken in these burial places and charts the evolution of cemeteries and gravestones from the colonial era into the 21st century.
The city of Warsaw has announced plans to recover 1,000 gravestones, or matzevot, that were taken from the city's Jewish cemetery and used to build a structure in a city park.
GATESHEAD Council planners have given permission for six gravestones to remain in the front garden of 7 Tyne View Place, Teams, Gateshead.