History of Memorialization
Throughout time, people around the world have built monuments as a way to remember those whom they loved and respected. These monuments have also been erected in order to record the history of an individual or group. The word monument comes from the Latin term “monere,” meaning “to remind.”
Memorial art began as little more than stones stacked over a grave for protection. Early monuments were made of local materials such as wood, bone and native stones. The truly enduring monuments were made from rock. As monument builders perfected their art, the results of their efforts became larger and more elaborate. Thus, a craft was born.
Historical memorialization boasts such artisans as Michelangelo and Bernini. The Great Pyramids of Egypt are perfect examples of monument construction as these burial tombs were being built about 2500 BC. Bronze was the material of choice for creating possibly the most famous of all metal monuments; the Colossus of Rhodes. This was a monument to Apollo and stood almost 120 feet high until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 227 BC.
The term mausoleum was eventually given to all above ground tombs. This is most likely due to a similar structure that was constructed for Mausolos, the ruler of Caria, who died in 353 BC in ancient Asia Minor. In more modern times, the Taj Mahal in India is a mausoleum built in 1648 for the wife of the Emperor.
Famous monuments are plentiful around the world and examples in the United States include the Washington Memorial and Mount Rushmore. In addition, there are countless memorials to fallen soldiers, public servants, historical figures and places.
Humanity has a need to remember and the most common way to remember is to build a monument. The monument has become a universal vehicle for commemorative expression. Monuments focus on the accomplishments and contributions of specific individuals through religious, architectural, artistic and literary standards of the time.