J Clayton here, doing what the ever-absent Adrian Shadowhack has been failing to do for all of our loyal blogees. I’m usurping the blog until he gets his head screwed back on and accepts responsibility.
His answer is always “I’ll get to it.” He was working on one blog called “Why Be a Vampire?” but that hasn’t materialized yet. And then there is our Guest Author series. Well, I promise that will begin the first of March. We’ve got at least a dozen kind vampire authors who volunteered to help out, and he’s letting those good folks down.
Meanwhile, I decided to bring you a select list of interesting some cemetery and dead things terms and trivia. You’ve probably seen some of these burial places in movies. Now you’ll know what they’re called.
CATACOMB– Basically an underground cemetery. The most famous catacombs were dug by the Christians (and Jews) in Rome partly because they couldn’t afford aboveground burial space and partly because they wanted to maintain their secrecy and burial customs. There are dozens of catacombs in Rome. This is really cool stuff. For more info check out these sites:
This last one has a lot of info in it.
CENTOTAPH– A memorial for a dead person who is actually buried somewhere else (the Greek word means “empty tomb”)
More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cenotaph
COLUMBARIUM– A building with many small niches in the wall to hold the urns of cremated remains.
CONTUMULATION– Sharing of a grave or tomb, such as where several family members are buried with a single tombstone or marker.
CRYPT– from the Greek for “hidden,” it’s a stone vault or chamber for burial. Originally they were under the floor of a church, but they can be anywhere. (See Mausoleum)
MAUSOLEUM– Not to be confused with a crypt, this is the building or structure that can house crypts or burial chambers. A mausoleum (plural “mausolea”) can be large or small but is aboveground even though the crypts it houses can be underground beneath it. The name comes from Mausolus, a Persian governor, whose sister and wife had the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus built. It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Interesting info on it here: http://www.unmuseum.org/maus.htm
NECROPHOBIA– Fear of dead things
OSSUARY– Any place for the final remains of multiple human skeletons or bones are put together to save space, but basically it’s just a “bone pit.”
PHILATORY– A transparent reliquary (q.v.) (I love the term “q.v.” It’s Latin for “which see” or “see also.” I’m showing off just ‘cuz Adrian isn’t around to complain about how dumb I make him feel. He’s really not dumb, though, just lazy sometimes.)
PLACOPHOBIA– Fear of tombstones
POLYANDRIUM– A cemetery, but originally one where the victims of great battles were put.
RELIQUARY– A container used to preserve the relics and/or the physical remains of a saint. (See Philatory)
SARCOPHAGUS– It’s your basic stone coffin, but was designed to remain aboveground. Here’s the neat thing about it. The word is Greek and means “flesh eating.” That’s because the early ones were made of limestone, which was believed to decompose the corpse in it fairly quickly so the coffin could be reused to bury someone else like another family member. Modern sarcophagi (plural) are usually made of granite or something harder than limestone.
SEPULCHRE– A burial vault, tomb, or grave; the Latin “sepulcrum” simply meant “a burial place.”
TAPHOPHILE– One who loves cemeteries and funerals
TOMB– Basically a grave, but the word comes from the Greek “tumulus” which means ‘swollen” and referred to the swollen mound that marked gravesites.
VIVISEPULCTURE– Burial alive (ouch!)
There you have J. Clayton’s first Graveside Chat. I’ll probably do more whenever the Lazy One among us neglects his duty. I promise at least one more blog post (hopefully by Adrian himself) before the Guest Authors’ posts or interviews begin. We’ll definitely have at least one of those every month until we run out. But we’ll also do other posts in between.
Meanwhile, enjoy your newfound vocabulary and cemetery trivia.