The Egyptian Revival

Greenwood Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona

Greenwood Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona

The Erhardt Family Monument in the Greenwood Cemetery at Phoenix, Arizona, is an example of the influence of the Egyptian revival found in American cemeteries in the 19th century and on into the 20th century. Egyptian ornamentation can be divided into three categories—architectural, geometric, and natural.  The monument has a strong and commanding architectural features. The sides of the monument tilt slightly inward forming a doorway, the cavetto cornice curves into a half circle at the top. The monument is geometrically balanced—two urns on each flank and one in the center.

The natural elements of the monument features two winged globes with uroei above the doorway and on the cornice. In this example, there are three sets of falcon wings that are a symbol of the king, the sun, and the sky. The globe represents the Egyptian god, Horus. The uroei, snakes, are waiting to strike. They symbolize the king’s ability to ward off evil spirits.

Along the sides of the doorway are the long slender stems of the lotus flower, sacred to the Egyptian and Buddhist cultures. The Lotus represents purity and evolution. The lotus is born in the water, the primordial ooze—making it also a symbol of creation and rebirth.

The monument gives one the sense of solemnity and a sense of eternity, reminiscent of the temples of the pharaohs.

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Follow Me

Greenwood Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona

Greenwood Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona



1875 – 1910






1870 “BE YE ALSO READY.” 1962



The epitaph on this gravestone from the Greenwood Cemetery at Phoenix, Arizona, sends the haunting message to remember death.  It reminds us that life is short and at the end of that life everyone has the same destination–death.

There are many variations of this epitaph, the most common one being: Remember me as you pass by/As you are now, so once was I/As I am now, so you must be/Prepare for death and follow me.  Below are more examples of this theme:

Death is a debt to nature due/Which I have paid & so must you.

Whilst oe’r my grave you stand and see/Remember you must follow me.

Hark from the tomb a dolful sound/Mine Eare attend the cry/Ye living men come view ye ground/Where you must shortly lie.

Such as thou art, sometime was I/Such as I am, such shalt thou be.

Death is a debt/By nature due/I’ve paid my debt/And so must you.

For sudden death/Prepared be/Resign your breath/And follow me.

Behold my friends, in me you all may see/An emblem of what you e’er must be/Remember you like me was form’d of dust/And with the earth unite again you must.

My friends, ime here the first that come/And in this place for you there’s room.

Passenger stop as you pass by/As you are now. so once was I/I had my share of worldly care/As I was living as you are/But God from all has set me free/Prepare for Death and follow me.

Stop my friend! O take another view!/The dust that molders here/Was once belov’d like you!/No longer then on future time relay/Improve the present and prepare to die!

He that was sweet to my repose/Now is become a stink under my nose/That is said of me/So it will be said of thee.

Now she is dead and cannot stir/Her cheeks are like a faded rose./Which one of us must follow her/The Lord Almighty only knows.

Learn then, ye living! by these mouths be taught/Of all these sepulchers, instruction true/That, soon or late, death also is your lot/And the next opening grave may yawn for you!

Time was i stood as thoust dost now/And viewed the dead as thou dost me/Ere long thoult lie as low as I/And others stand and look at thee.



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Rose Blossom

Greenwood Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona

Greenwood Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona

The monument for the Beck family in the Greenwood Cemetery, at Phoenix, Arizona, has atop it a young female figure. Her head is bent forward, she is looking down in reflection and sorrow, while she is holding a rose bloom in one hand and clutching a floral wreath in the other. This is a common Victorian funerary symbol expressing the transitory nature of life.

The rose is a secular symbol for love and beauty but is also associated with the Virgin Mary—the rose without thorns. The rose, however, can also connote age. A rose bud, generally found on a child’s grave, represents the life that has yet to bloom. Often, in that case the bud will be on a broken stem indicating that the life was cut short. A partial bloom on the rose would indicate an older child, such as a teenager, while a full bloom, as we have here indicates the life of someone who has reached maturity. In this case, Mary Beck, who lived from 1825 to 1912, and Ira Beck, who lived from 1861 to 1940, lived long lives indicative of the full blossom on the rose that the statue holds.


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Optimism dashed






1917 — 20



I.U. CLASS OF 1938 

There is a tiny cemetery in the middle of the Indiana University campus next to the Beck Chapel.  Only a couple of dozen people are buried there.  One gravestone of note, is for Doris Marie Seward, whose epitaph describes her as an optimist.  Indeed, her gravestone carver believed she would live into the next millennium, first carving 20, the beginning of 2000 with the death date to be filled in later.  She did not make it and the 20 was crossed out for her death year of 1999.  She almost made it.

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Greenwood Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona

Greenwood Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona


DEC. 26, 1843

AUG. 13, 1902


Sitting on top of this gray granite gravestone in the Greenwood Cemetery at Phoenix, Arizona, is a large acorn, turned upside down.  The acorn, seed of the mighty oak, is a symbol of prosperity and fruitfulness.  When the acorn is paired with oak leaves it is seen as a traditional symbol of strength.  The single acorn can represent a kernel of truth born into spiritual growth.  Twin acorns can represent male sexuality.  Two acorns can also represent truth and power of the Holy Spirit. The former is revealed in the Earthly realm and the later after entering the Heavenly realm.

The hex design that is formed at the top of the acorn (here the acorn is upside down so it is seen at the bottom) is used by the Mennonites and Amish artisans.  The design signifies protection and natural abundance.


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The Crown

Greenwood Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona

Greenwood Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona

The crown is a fairly common symbol found in American cemeteries.  Sometimes it can be found as an incised carving at the top of the gravestone—often in conjunction with other symbolism such as palm leaves.  Sometimes the crown is made of a completely different material, such as zinc, and anchored on top of a gravestone.

This weathered gravestone, however, in the Greenwood Cemetery at Phoenix, Arizona, has the crown built into the design of the stone, topping the square column.

The crown is a symbol of glory and reward and victory over death.  The reward comes after life and the hard-fought battle on Earth against the wages of sin and the temptations of the flesh.  The reward awaits in Heaven where the victor will receive a crown of victory.  The crown also represents the sovereign authority of the Lord.


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The Beehive

Greenwood Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona

Greenwood Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona


1848 – 19 8

(It appears as if the “1″ on the tombstone has been chiseled off)

The beehive is often found on the graves of members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows or the Freemasons. To the Masons, the beehive represented a feat that not a single bee could accomplish, but the industry of many bees.  Masons were to work hard when working so they could live with a free conscience on their holidays or non-working days.

The Mormons also adopted the tiny bee and the beehive as a symbol of community.  Again, they could build a tabernacle or an entire community by employing the talents and skills of many that could not be accomplished by a few.  The Great Seal of the State of Utah has at its center, a beehive with the word “INDUSTRY” written above the image of the beehive.


The beehive, like the great pyramids, represent a hierarchy in society, suggesting an organized community.  The beehive has long been a symbol for human industry. The cliché, busy as a bee, reinforces the idea of the bees being industrious.  It also represents faith, education and domestic virtues.


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