The sphinx is a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion, protector of the dead, it is historically connected to the pyramid, the ultimate in tombs.
There are two types of sphinx; most famously the Egyptian sphinx modeled after the Great Sphinx at Giza which represents a male. The head is dressed with a neme, the striped headcloth worn by pharaohs in ancient Egypt.
Occasionally a false beard is displayed. As beards were associated with the gods, Pharaohs wore false beards for ceremonies to express their importance and divine ranking.
In March 1865 Cambridge, Massachusetts, Dr. Jacob Bigelow proposed that the Mount Auburn Cemetery commission “a public monument in memory of the heroes who have fallen in the present war for the preservation of the Union.” When the trustees postponed making a decision he commissioned the Irish-born sculptor, Martin Milmore, to create a Sphinx to be cut from a single block of Hallowell granite, 15 feet long and about 8 feet high.
The Sphinx was chosen as it represented the strength of a lion and the beauty and benevolence of a woman. The inscription was composed by Dr. Bigelow “American Union Preserved; African Slavery Destroyed; By the Uprising of a Great People; By the Blood of Fallen Heroes.”
The Brunswig tomb in Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana was built to commemorate Lucien Napoleon Brunswig’s wife, Annie Mercer Brunswig and their son Lucien Mercer Brunswig (1882-1892) who died within a month of each other. His testament instructed his family to bury him inside the tomb with his wife and child. Brunswig is also interred with his two daughters, Henrietta Rosalie Brunswig (1879-1963), and Annie Brunswig Wellborn (1881-1982) and her husband.
In Greek tradition, the sphinx was in the form of a female who was often bare-breasted and is therefore associated with maternal love.
Many neo-Egyptian designs in modern cemeteries feature the Greek variety which is often portrayed with the wings of a bird.
Within the Hildburghausen Cemetery in Germany a winged Sphinx sits atop the headstone belonging to the 19th century Egyptologist, Doctor Friedrich Carl Ludwig Sickler.
A pyramid marks the Schoenhofen Tomb in the Graceland Cemetery, Chicago. The entry door with a snake coiled on the handle is flanked by a sphinx and an angel. It is the final resting place of Peter Schoenhofen, a Chicago brewer.
The Drake Mausoleum contains members of the family and extended relatives. Originally at Laurel Hill Cemetery it was moved to West Laurel Hill, Philadelphia where it is guarded by a winged Sphinx at each corner of the roof. Thomas Drake Martinez Cardeza and his mother Mrs. Charlotte Drake Martinez Cardeza were surviving passengers of the Titanic shipwreck in 1912. Charlotte was a rich philanthropist who donated millions of dollars to the poor.
An attack on France’s biggest military graveyard, the Notre Dame de Lorette cemetery, which lies near the town of Arras in France, is the third incident of Muslim tombstone desecration in two years. In April 2008, 148 Muslim graves were vandalised and a pig’s head was hung from a tombstone. That attack came almost exactly a year after a similar incident had occurred.
Inaugurated in 1925, the cemetery houses the remains of about 40,000 victims of a series of long and bloody battles for control of northern France at the start of World War I. The Muslim quarter includes 576 tombs grouped together and turned towards Mecca. The graves of French Muslim war veterans were affected by the graffiti in the form of Swastikas and hateful slogans against Islam on the eve of Islam’s Eid-al-Adha feast. Letters which were painted upon each gravestone linked together in order to spell out anti-Islamic insults.
President Nicolas Sarkozy denounced the latest outrage as “abject and revolting,” calling it “…the expression of a repugnant racism directed against the Muslim community of France”. Police have been scouring the area in the hope of finding the culprits. The attack came almost exactly a year after a similar incident in which neo-Nazi vandals scrawled swastikas on 52 of the cemetery’s Muslim graves.
Harold Lewis Bell Lasseter became famous in 1929 with a claim that he had discovered a vast, gold-bearing reef over fourteen miles long in the Outback of Central Australia. His claim led to a search expedition which left Alice Springs on 21st July 1930.
No maps showing the location of the reef were ever found, and the tale of the reef and its discoverer has become the most famous lost mine legend in Australia, and remains a “holy grail” among Australian prospectors. His daughter claims that he found the reef (after the expedition gave up) only to discover that it was in an area considered sacred by the blacks.
ADELAIDE, Friday.—A body, believed to be that of the prospector, Lance(sic) Harold Bell Lasseter, who died while searching for a fabulous reef of gold near the Petermann Ranges in the Northern Territory in 1931,has been recovered from a grave. The find was made by the Australian Television Enterprises Ltd. unit, led by producer Lee Robinson, several days ago. A local bushman, Mr. Bob Buck, who is believed to be now in Adelaide, claimed that in 1931 he went out to search for Lasseter’s body, which had been buried in a shallow grave by aborigines. He disinterred the body, removed the upper denture and reburied the body in a proper grave with a post and railing fence and returned to Alice Springs, where a death certificate for Lasseter was issued. A native boy named Mick, acted as guide to the television party. Mick said that as a boy of 14 he was with a group of natives which led a starving white man for 40 miles towards Nindevale Station. However, he died and the natives buried him in an oval-shaped grave, doubled up in the native fashion. Mick led the party to a dry creek bed and pointed to a spot where he said Lasseter had been buried. The spot which Mick pointed out was dug up and four charred posts were found. The next day a skeleton of a man with a missing upper denture was found, a little deeper. A doctor from Alice Springs examined the skeleton at the grave and declared it to be that of a white man about 5ft. 4in. tall and of similar build to Lasseter. Canberra Times (ACT), 21 December 1957.
The date of his death was established as January 30th 1931. His grave was located on December 14th 1957 by an expedition led by Lowell Thomas and Lee Robinson. Lasseter’s daughter stated that ‘…he died alone of dysentery and sandy blight in a lonely cave in the Peterman Ranges. The blacks came and put his body in a tree wrapped in bark as they do with their own for a certain period.’ A memorial is located in Pioneer Cemetery, Alice Springs, NT.