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Petrographic investigations in cemeteries in Dresden: a scientific view on the tombstone inventory including historic and cultural aspects

Lange, Jan-Michael, Kaden, Martin, Janetschke, Nadine
Environmental earth sciences 2018 v.77 no.17 pp. 620
inventories, mountains, railroads, rivers, sandstone, France, Scandinavia
Cemeteries give evidence for a continuous change in sepulchral culture and provide insights into the application of characteristical rock materials used for tombstones during different times. Four selected cemeteries in Dresden (the Eliasfriedhof/Elias Cemetery, the Trinitatisfriedhof/Trinity Cemetery, the Johannisfriedhof/Johannis Cemetery, and the Städtischer Urnenhain/Municipal Urn Grove), which are of considerable cultural and historical importance, have been investigated within an ongoing mapping project. First results of this project focussing on the tombstone inventory of the mentioned graveyards and thus the use of building and decoration stones therein between 1680 and 1945 are presented in this paper. It can be demonstrated that the choice, variety, and application of rock material depends on the infrastructure and transport possibilities, but is also strongly influenced by sepulchral cultural trends and the prevailing zeitgeist. Until the middle of the 19th century, nearly solely Elbe sandstone (from the area of the Elbsandsteingebirge/Elbe sandstone mountains), that was transported on the Elbe river by ship, is found as rock material for tombstones in Dresden cemeteries. Rapid construction and development of the railway network starting around 1840 improved the availability, at first, of regional rock material (e.g., from the Lausitz/Lusatia) and, later on, from about 1880, of national and international—especially European—rock material (e.g., from Franken/Franconia, France, Scandinavia). Furthermore, the Friedhofsreformbewegung/cemetery reform movement at the beginning of the 20th century, with its significant effect on the selection of rock types used for tombstones, marks another historical breakthrough.