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What is an above-ground burial?

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Quick Answer

An above-ground burial is the method in which a deceased person is laid to rest by being entombed in a structure above the ground. This kind of burial could take place within a lawn crypt or a mausoleum.

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When someone is buried above ground, it is referred to as a tomb rather than a grave. The reasons for an above-ground burial are varied, but usually involve tradition, geological factors and personal preference. Burials of this type are renowned in the city of New Orleans, where the cemeteries are referred to as "Cities of the Dead," due to the above-ground structures resembling houses in a village.

The reason for burying the deceased above ground in New Orleans is most often the high water table underneath the surface. Above-ground burial helps prevent water damage and leakage by interring a body above the surface, allowing for dryer conditions. Furthermore, it is beneficial in saving space, as the practice has historically been employed when space below ground has been exhausted. Not only that, but having a tomb above the ground is also desired by those who wish to leave a more stylish memorial in their wake. For this reason, above-ground burials, especially in mausoleums, are often more expensive than in-ground burial.

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