|Genealogy Tip of the Day|
Have you ever wandered through a cemetery and wondered about the meanings of the designs carved on old gravestones? Thousands of different religious and secular symbols, markers, and emblems have adorned tombstones through the ages indicating attitudes towards death and the hereafter, membership in a fraternal or social organization, or an individual's trade, occupation or even ethnic identity. While many of these symbols have fairly simple interpretations agreed on by gravestone scholars, it is not always possible to determine their meaning and significance. Even a symbol which appears to be obvious, may not be what it seems. We were not present when these symbols were carved into the stone and can't claim to know our ancestors' intentions - they may have included a particular symbol for no other reason than because they thought it was pretty.
While we can only speculate what our ancestors were trying to tell us through their gravestone designs, icons and symbols, there are many lists available with common interpretations agreed upon by many gravestone scholars. These interpretations, along with a familiarity of the time period and region should help you to make an attempt at understanding the symbols and icons carved into the gravestones of your ancestors.
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