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A cemetery is a place (usually an enclosed area of land) in which dead bodies are buried. The body is usually brought to the cemetery in a hearse. Cemeteries are used primarily for human burials but in recent times, special cemeteries have been created for the bodies of animals such as dogs, cats and horses. These cemeteries are known as pet cemeteries.

Traditionally, in western culture, a cemetery is a place where the final ceremonies of death are observed, with different rites and practices across cultures and religions. It is usually a respected area, and often includes churches or other religious buildings and sometimes a crematorium for the burning (cremation) of the dead.

The violation of the graves or buildings is usually considered a very serious crime and punishments are often severe.


Cemeteries in ancient ages

Many places have been found where ancient people buried their dead. These places could be an organised necropolis or they could be simple areas with highly symbolic elements around (like the Tomb of Giants in Sardinia). The Egyptian pyramids were tombs.

Cemeteries for pets

The Cimetière des Chiens in Asnières-sur-Seine in Paris, is an elaborate, sculpted pet cemetery believed to be the first zoological necropolis in the world. Rin Tin Tin, the famous dog from Hollywood films, is buried here.

Cemeteries and superstition

In many countries, cemeteries are objects of superstition and legend; they are sometimes used (usually at night-time) for black magic ceremonies or similar clandestine happenings. In Haiti the traditional belief regarding zombies as practiced under Voudun religion is connected with burial rituals. It is believed that the zombified individual is buried alive in a coffin in a shallow grave after being given a dosage of tetrodotoxin from the puffer fish to slow his heart so he appears dead even to medical practitioners. After all the burial ceremonies are completed the zombie victim is then dug up and taken into servitude, usually as a punishment for some crime he committed. Some Haitians deny that these practices exist and that these kinds of voodoo practices are pure superstition.

Elephants' cemeteries

According to popular myth, older elephants instinctively leave their group when they reach a certain age, and direct themselves toward a special area, known as an elephant graveyard They then die there alone, far from the group.

This myth is actually half true. The legend arose from the fact that elephant skeletons are, in fact, frequently found in groups near permanent sources of water. Malnutritioned elephants instinctively seek out sources of water in the hopes of improving their conditions. The elephants that don't improve develop increasingly low blood sugar and eventually become comatose and die, still in close proximity to the water (and to the remains of other malnutritioned elephants).

Today it is used as a metaphor for any place, position, or station in life where one has basically reached the end, i.e. "out to pasture", "end of the line", "last roundup", etc. Retrieved from ""

External links

  • Comprehensive London Cemetery Project: 102 cemeteries with high quality photos.
  • Saving Graves - A collaborative effort of cemetery preservation advocates working to increase public awareness and activism in preserving, protecting and restoring endangered and forgotten cemeteries worldwide.
  • UK Graves - The purpose of UK Graves is to tell you about interesting and attractive graveyards and cemeteries in the south of England, with particular reference to photography. There are many photographs on the site, both of graveyards and of individual graves.
  • Online Cemetery, Burial & Graves Indexes (USA) - A directory of web based indexes for cemeteries.
  • Find-a-Grave - Online virtual cemetery with photos, biographies, and virtual flowers. Includes index of famous and historical figures' burial information and grave images.
  • The Elephant Debate - Contains information about the elephant graveyard myth.
  • Grave Addiction - Contains photos of many cemeteries throughout the United States.
  • A Very Grave Matter - Contains many photos from cemeteries from the east coast of the United States.

Last updated: 11-07-2004 00:47:59