Why a tombstone?
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The history of the tombstone
The tombstone, in its most literal form, has existed for thousands of years. Some archaeological sites show that Neanderthal man was buried in pits deep in caves.
In those days, tombstones were used to protect the body of the deceased from wild animals. This practice lasted for many years and placing stones on top of the grave became a kind of tradition that was not always confirmed.
Moreover, the superstitious believed that by doing so, they prevented the dead from coming back to life.
Tombstones: The different names
The different names of tombstones
Before being definitively called tombstones, they first went through several names.
However, the name still referred to the gravestone.
For example, at one point they were called memorials. But there are also names that are far removed from the term, such as 'memorial markers' or 'pet headstones' or 'double deep markers' and 'headstones for two'.
Gravestones have always been of great importance. Even though the various purposes sought by man in Neanderthal times and nowadays are quite different, the meaning of gravestones is still important.
Today, tombstones are the best way to honour the deceased by evoking their life or status in society on the headstone.
However, the tradition has changed a great deal from country to country and from generation to generation. It concerns in particular the shape of the grave, which is more or less dictated by the different customs practised by the inhabitants.
Among the Japanese, for example, it is traditional to build a tombstone after two people have been married. When one of them dies, the other paints the initials of the deceased in red on the headstone.
The concept of the cemetery
In the beginning, the graves were located near the family home. In those days, the materials used were mainly rough stones or wooden markers. The headstones only mentioned the name of the person, the age and the year of death. When the church recognised the burial, it was included in the funeral rite.
Graves and cemeteries gradually became common practice, both within and outside the funeral rites of churches. Tombstone monuments were usually square and slender, made of sandstone or slate.