Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy

One of the things that makes me happiest when I poke around graveyards is to see the connections between peoples in various different locations. Like any other facet of human behavior, fashions sweep through graveyards. Suddenly people from coast to coast (and all around the world) are adorning their grave monuments with the same icon.

In this case, I choose to focus on urns. The urn hearkens back the Roman practice of cremating their dead outside of their cities, then collecting the ashes up into urns which were then stored inside the family tombs that lined every road in and out of their towns. The urn became a motif in American cemeteries (and European as well) after the rediscovery of the intact Roman tombs lining the roads into Pompeii.

The urns above show the breadth of the motif from Boston to New Orleans to the Motor City throughout California. Their earliest incarnations were scratched into slate but progressed through marble into granite, zinc, and iron. They changed from the shallowest reliefs to three-dimensional sculpture to bronze receptacles where human ashes are once again stored.

I’ll write more about both cremation and Pompeii this week, but for now I’ll leave you with links to the cemeteries above:

Granary Burying Ground, Boston, Massachusetts

Lafayette Cemetery #1, New Orleans, Louisiana

Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio

Chapel of the Chimes, Oakland, California

Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery, Burbank, California

The The Neptune Society Columbarium in San Francisco

My visit to Glen Rock

Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan

Bendle Cemetery’s zinc monument 

About Loren Rhoads

I'm co-author of a series about a succubus and her angel. Angelus Rose, the final book, came out in February 2020. I am the editor of Tales for the Camp Fire: An Anthology Benefiting Wildfire Relief. I'm also author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel--and a space opera trilogy.
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3 Responses to Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy

  1. Love the photos! How did you get them to be circles? I’ve never seen that before.


  2. Pingback: Cemetery of the Week #79: the Archaeological Site at Ancient Pompeii | Cemetery Travel: Adventures in Graveyards Around the World

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