(Buddhist Cemetery (Tokyo, Japan), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:JapaneseGraveyardTokyo.jpg)
A cemetery is a group of monumental tombs sometimes attached to a place of worship. Funerary space that appears in the Middle Ages, it differs from prehistoric burial field that is not home to monuments, and ancient necropolis which is clearly separate places of worship.
The word cemetery, whose etymology goes back to Vulgar Latin cimiterium itself derived from classical Latin coemeterium, from the ancient Greek κοιμητήριον, koimêtêrion ( “place to sleep, dormitory”) belongs to the fifteenth century language clerics while the current language uses one of aster (from the Latin atrium, which means the courtyard entrance before the entry of a Roman villa, which by extension the cemetery before entrance of the church) or grave.
By extension, the cemetery is any public and sacred ground where, after a ceremony, the dead are buried in the same group of people in individual graves where their memory is usually signaled by a monument, symbols or inscriptions . The general term cemetery eventually encompass the field of funeral and burial.
The cult of the dead is considered characteristic of the human species. The burial of the dead in dedicated premises appeared very early in prehistoric times, long before the invention of writing, with special constructions (tumulus, necropolis) for leaders or religious figures, often buried with a number of symbolic objects (symbols of wealth). For this reason, since ancient times, tombs and graveyards were often looted. The oldest cemetery discovered so far in northern Jordan dates back over 16.500 years. It consisted of graves filled with offerings.
(Cemetery at Čakovec, Croatia, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%C4%8Cakove%C4%8Dko_groblje;_grob_Dr._Ivana_Novaka_-_jugoistok.jpg?uselang=fr)
In Western Europe in the eighteenth century, cemeteries, then installed bedside churches, are gradually abandoned. New cemeteries are open the gates of cities or villages. Cholera epidemics and hygiene measures against them contribute significantly to this change. On the other hand the progress of liberal ideas strengthen this movement. Political debates take place on the right of non-baptized to be buried in public cemeteries. Gradually the cemetery is no longer administered by the Church and religious power but by the municipal authority.
In Western countries, since the early nineteenth century, the cemeteries are divided into cadastered concessions (organizational divisions, square and rows, scheduling characteristic of the Industrial Revolution) which are accessed by alleys. Each is rented or sold to a person or family, who can build a tomb or vault. A so-called concession “in perpetuity” could be given or sold to a family, but the life is becoming scarce due to lack of space in and around cities.
Some cemeteries give the impression to reproduce the city with its rich neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods. In some countries, families spend considerable sums to build tombs shaped as houses, built with more care than real, for example in Madagascar. Mass graves, longtime the lot of the dead without family and destitute, are now reserved for unidentified people killed in disasters or major epidemics.
Across cultures and eras, cemeteries are more or less monumentalized and sacralized. Catholic worship is characterized by stone tombs, imposing and decorated with sometimes complex symbols. The late twentieth century in France and in several European countries has discouraged expression of nature in cemeteries: marble stone vaults of concrete handmade and industrially lined walkways between shale or gravel often chemically weeded. In traditionally Catholic countries, Dead Day is the commemoration of the faithful departed and is marked on November 2. That day – or the day before All Saints’ Day – is placed on the graves of plastic flowers, ceramic or painted on enamels or natural flowers.
Sometimes, however, nature is present. Thus, hedges and shrubs pruned by line, very manicured lawns characterize military cemeteries. In Paris, the Père-Lachaise is more visited than genuine gardens. In some areas, taxus (symbolic plant of immortality) or common lilac (important plant for gypsies) are present in the cemetery. Some cemeteries are almost completely covered with grass, as in Anglo-Saxon countries, where the alleys and tombs are planted grass which emerge only steles or vertical cross. This formula is adopted by Muslim cemeteries in Northern Europe, Eastern Europe or other countries. Some villages maintain a favorable flora butterflies and birds so they brighten the place.