Tombs by type

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This gallery gives an overview of types of tombs. For each type of tomb there is a description here and and at least one example reference picture.

This page is meant to help users categorizing images of tombs. The categorization scheme 'Tombs by type' is part of the Commons: Category scheme graves, and gives the Type documentation for Category: Tombs.

A tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. The term generally refers to any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes. The word is used in a broad sense to encompass a number of such types of places of interment or, occasionally, burial, including:

See also[edit]

Prehistoric tombs[edit]

Prehistoric places of interment, often for large communities, constructed of large megaliths and originally covered with an earthen mound or tumuli. Specific types are outlined in the Megaliths by type gallery.

See Megaliths by type
Dolmen de Bélesta.JPG


A tumulus (plural tumuli or tumuluses) is a mound of earth or earth and stones raised over a tomb or one or more graves. If excavated or otherwise exposed, tumuli may be known to cover specific types of tomb such as a ship burial, but more usually one of those outlined in the Megaliths by type gallery.

Tumulus du Trou de Billemont 01.jpg


Olerdolana is the name given since 19th century to the tombs dug into the rock of medieval times, due to the large number of this type of structures known in the place of Olèrdola (Barcelona). It is Alberto del Castillo, one of the parents of Spanish medieval archaeology, which popularized this name. These tombs, also called rupestres, anthropomorphic (many have this way), etc. spread good part of the Spanish, British, Portuguese and French geography and, despite doubts there is on his chronology, today we know that most were excavated and used during late Antiquity and the middle ages.

Olerdolana or anthropomorphic tombs in Spain Anthropomorphic tombs in the United Kingdom Anthropomorphic tombs in France
ErmitaRupestreSanVicente CerveraPisuerga 009.JPG Heysham Tombs.jpg Beaucaire Saint-Roman Gräber 64.JPG

Cist tombs[edit]

Several burials were documented in cist (a small stone-built coffin-like box or ossuary used to hold the bodies of the dead). Its chronology goes from Prehistoric to Middle ages.

Prehistoric age cist tomb Prehistoric age cist tomb Middle age cist tomb
Cist on Harford Moor - - 1183916.jpg Ossuary Les Blianches Banques Jèrri Juîn 2009 3.jpg Archaeological site of La Poza (Baltanás) 012.jpg


Cavernous rock-cut spaces for interment, generally in the Jewish or Christian faiths. There are several famous examples in the Holy Land including the Tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Jerusalem Tomb of the Garden.JPG

Yagura tombs[edit]

Yagura tombs are man-made caves used as tombs in medieval Japan.

Yagura tomb
Meigetsuin Yagura.jpg

Underground tombs[edit]

Tomb hypogea are stone-built underground structures for interment, such as the tombs of ancient Egypt in the Valley of the Kings.


Catacombs are ancient, human-made subterranean cemeteries. Many are under cities, such as the Catacombs of Rome. In Christian catacombs, the specific individual tombs may be sarcophagi under arches known as Arcosolia.

Catacomb Arcosolium
Nerubayskoe 07.jpg Arcosolium.jpg


Burial crypts are stone or brick-lined underground spaces for interment, usually vaulted and beneath a religious building such as a church, usually for groups of people, either genreal public or private families. They may contain church monuments, sarcophagi or coffins.

Crypt with church monument Crypt with sarcophagi
Apollinariskirche Remagen - Krypta (2008-07-21).JPG Citadelle d'Akershus.jpg

Ship burials[edit]

A ship burial or boat grave is a grave in which a ship or boat is used either as the tomb for the dead and the grave goods, or is simply as a part of the grave goods itself. There are several famous Viking examples from Norway. Other examples include the Anglo-Saxon ship cemetery at Sutton Hoo in England.

Ship burial
Sutton Hoo ship-burial model.jpg

Tombs in the Valley of the Kings[edit]

Some of the most underground tombs are those of the ancient pharoahs of Egypt in the Valley of the Kings.

Diagram Exterior Interior wall paintings
Tutankhamen KV62.jpg Luxor, Tal der Könige (1995, 860x605).jpg Tuth-grab1.jpg Egypt.KV6.01.jpg


External free-standing structures, above ground, acting as both monument and place of interment, usually for individuals or family groups. Common across religions across the World, they may be small buildings in cemeteries for the gentry or impressive and complex constructions for leading public figures. The latter type may have their own individual categories. Most funerary buildings referred to as 'tombs' are more specifically mausoleums.

Cemetery mausoleum Large mausoleum
Perelachaise-p1000391.jpg Mausoleum of Mao Zedong P1090218.jpg

Mausoleums by shape[edit]

Some specific shapes have their own categories. Pyramidal mausoleums include the World-famous Pyramids of Egypt.

domed mausoleum
domed mausoleum
Pyramidal mausoleum One of the Pyramids of Egypt Mausoleum tower
Dessau Georgium Mausoleum.jpg Zagorzany Grobowiec Skrzynskich.JPG Cheops pyramid 01.jpg Will Rogers Shrine 2006-08-05.jpg

Mausoleums by architectural style[edit]

Some architectural styles, original or revivalist, have their own categories too.

Ancient Roman mausoleum Islamic mausoleum Neoclassical mausoleum Gothic revival mausoleum
Villa Gordiani - Park of Rome a.jpg Taj Mahal-09.jpg Berlin Mausoleum Charlottenburg 08.JPG Frankfurter Hauptfriedhof, Gewann F 1, Mausoleum Reichenbach-Lessonitz - 01.jpg


Stone containers for bodies or coffins, often decorated and perhaps part of a monument; these may stand within religious buildings or greater tombs or mausolea. Church monuments in the shape of chests can look like sarcophagi, but are usually architectural not sepulchral.

Modern sarcophagus Medieval sarcophagi Ancient Roman sarcophagus Ancient Egyptian sarcophagus
Nuremberg L.A.Feuerbach Sarcophagus f se.jpg RoyalPantheon.jpg Sarcophage marbre, MNC.jpg Egypt.KV8.01.jpg

Tombs within church monuments[edit]

Church monuments are architectural or sculptural memorials to dead persons within a Christian place of worship or funerary building. Large church monuments may contain the body and would therefore be classed as tombs. However, this is unusual and difficult to to assess by viewing the monument only. The tomb is usually beneath the monument or somewhere nearby beaneath the building. Church monuments which include the tomb are therefore simply categorized as church monuments and not as tombs as well.

Tomb within a church monument
Gisant de François II, cathédrale de Nantes (France).jpg