Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

August 15, 2012

Morris: Thoughts on cemetery symbolism

Greensburg — Cemeteries contain a wealth of information about a community.

For example, date clusters on grave markers may be a clue that a natural disaster such as an epidemic swept through a community.

Exceptionally large or very tall tombstones, such as those erected during the turn of the century, typically mark the grave of a VIP or socially prominent member of the community. Surnames (last names) on grave markers can be a clue to cultural origins.

Symbols on grave markers usually possess special meanings to those buried there. Common symbols include anchors. The anchor typically symbolizes hope in Jesus Christ and his anchoring influence upon the lives of Christians. In seaside communities, the anchor marked the final resting place of a dedicated seaman.

Birds in flight represent the flight of the soul to the afterlife. Eagles are used to represent a military or American patriotic background. A dove symbolized the Holy Spirit and/or peace. Books on a tombstone usually represent the Bible and religious faithfulness.

The Cross reflects the buried person's belief in Christianity. Crowns represents the glory of life after death, or the deceased's ascension into Heaven.

Gates or bars represents the entrance of the departed into Heaven. Hands with fingers pointing upward usually mean that the deceased has traveled upward to heaven. Two hands grasping one another symbolizes eternal friendship or eternal love, often used for married couples.

A heart can symbolize many things. Chief among these are love. Whether love of God or love of another, such as a spouse or family. The heart is used to symbolize devotion to something or someone.

The hourglass is a symbol of time. The image usually depicts time's passing and the inevitability of death. An hourglass indicates that person's time on earth expired and implies that visitors reading the marker should embrace life because it, much like the flow of the sand in an hourglass, is finite and will eventually end.

Ben Morris, MA, RPA, is an archaeological and historical consultant for the Daily News. He can be reached at 812-932-0298 or bjmorris1935@gmail.com.

1
Text Only
Columns
  • Pat Smith: A reader's special note Before beginning this week’s column it must be stressed that I love getting emails from readers, love getting telephone calls from readers and love seeing readers when I’m out and about – especially those who very generously tell me that they read th

    July 24, 2014

  • Spaulding Outdoors: The Inside on Indiana's Outside Early Migratory Bird 2014 Season Dates The 2014 early migratory bird season dates have been submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by the Indiana DNR as listed below. The dates are not final until the USFWS approves them, which typically hap

    July 24, 2014

  • Why incumbents get reelected Incumbents are masters at posing as outsiders, when in fact they are insiders who produce the Congress they disdain. It’s no news that Congress is unpopular. In fact, at times it seems like the only real novelty on Capitol Hill would be a jump in its

    July 24, 2014

  • Lessons from the largely forgotten war As we approach the official date on which the First World War started, July 28, 1914, when the first shots were fired by the Austro-Hungarians who invaded Serbia, it’s appropriate to think about the lessons that catastrophic event has taught us one h

    July 24, 2014

  • Protecting Indiana's agricultural heritage With the 4-H fairs in full swing, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about agriculture. Since Indiana became a state back in 1816, agriculture has played a vital role in our livelihood. For those who are not from Indiana, our state is practica

    July 22, 2014

  • Improving Indiana's infrastructure It is always a happy time when my family visits, especially to celebrate a wedding. I recently played hostess for my niece and her wedding party when she was looking for somewhere to hold her rehearsal dinner. I absolutely enjoy when family comes to

    July 22, 2014

  • Shining a light on the Federal Reserve If you are like most Americans, you probably have heard of the Federal Reserve. But, you may not know much about what the Fed actually does or the very real ways its decisions impact your day-to-day life. The Federal Reserve was founded by Congress i

    July 22, 2014

  • Expiring term heightens the urgency of lawmaker's mission INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrant

    July 22, 2014

  • fea-gb072214 Spaulding column jpg Spaulding Outdoors: The inside on Indiana's outside Free beginner waterfowl hunting workshopsTwo free waterfowl hunting workshops for beginners will be offered in August and September by the Department of Natural Resources. The focus of the workshops is on hunting Canada geese, although there will be

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thankful for our veterans' sacrifice On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, giving birth to a new nation. To Great Britain and the rest of the world, the U.S. proclaimed itself the proud home of free people. Since that day, on more than one occasion, this freedom h

    July 17, 2014

Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.