Death is a fact that we all face at one point in life. Although burial traditions have changed tremendously since ancient times, many of the methods we used back then are still used today. Above-ground interment has been a common method of burial for millennia, particularly among royalty, nobility, and members of the elite. Westminster Abbey, the Great Pyramids, and even the Tomb of Christ are all notable examples of interment structures that have stood the test of time. In this article, we explore the history of mausoleums and how they came to be a popular option for above-ground interment in the modern world.

What Is a Mausoleum?

A mausoleum is a free-standing structure that is built above ground and designed with burial compartments or crypts to hold human remains. These covered grave sites are found all over the world and vary by design. Mausoleums are made with strong and readily available materials such as concrete, granite, marble, tile, or wood. These independent structures were widely used until about the 10th century because members of the Christian faith did not support the practice of burying the dead in such intricate structures. Nonetheless, Europeans continued to build small mausoleums with interior visiting areas. Some mausoleums take the shape of vestibules that resemble small houses for the dead.

There are two types of mausoleums to choose from when creating your own burial or end-of-life plan. Public mausoleums are designed to memorialize multiple members of the community, providing a secure enclosure that will remain clean and dry for many years to come. Private mausoleums are perfect for family members that prefer to be buried together. These distinct structures are built by request and designed to entomb multiple members of a single family. You might consider a private mausoleum if you prefer maximum privacy and the possibility of personalization.

History of Mausoleums

There are many prehistoric monuments that still stand today. Some of the oldest grave sites in the world were constructed more than 6,000 years ago, including both the Barnenez passage grave and the Tumulus of Bougon in France. A tumulus is an ancient burial mound or a barrow that was made from earth and stones that were raised over the graves within. Passage graves and tumuli such as these are also known as burial mounds, kurgans, and cairns.

In the third century BC, the Hecatomnid dynasty ruled the Carian region of western Anatolia or modern-day Turkey. Mausolus, the eldest son of the dynastic ruler Hecatomnus, took part in rebellions, sieges, and social wars in the surrounding areas of the Aegean and Mediterranean. Mausolus embraced Hellenic culture and is best known for the monumental shrine that was erected and named for him by his widow and sister, Artemisia II of Caria. The Mausoleum at Hilcarnassus might not have been the first above-ground structure to contain crypts or burial compartments, but it was the first tomb to be called a mausoleum and is considered by many to be one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Today, the term mausoleum is used to denote any above-ground tomb.

If you have any questions about this article or the history of mausoleums in general, please don't hesitate to contact Legacy Headstones today to learn more.