Our cemeteries offer more than just history. There’s geometry in them thar tombstones! (All photos from Oakwood Cemetery unless otherwise noted.)
Probably the most common geometric shape in older cemeteries is the simple box—a flattened and elongated cube. The folks in the protractor-and-compass crowd call this geometric shape a “cuboid” or a “rectangular parallelepiped.” (As I understand it, non-math majors can correctly pronounce “parallelepiped” only while dancing in a conga line.)
Plain old cube.
Ball (known in some circles as a “sphere”).
Four in-line cylinders. Downright automotive.
On the monument of murdered merchant Burwell Christmas Evans, these columns are just cylinders wearing fancy Corinthian hats.
At Mount Olivet an elliptical cylinder.
At Birdville Cemetery the tops of these finials on the pickets of an iron fence are cones.
This Woodmen of the World tombstone is a veritable geometry final exam. The tree trunk is a cylinder. The head of the splitting maul is a cuboid. The splitting wedge and the ax head are wedges. A wedge, as you might recall, is not only a geometric shape but also one of the six classical simple machines, meaning it has no “CHECK ENGINE” light.
You just never know where you’re going to run into math. Or, in the case of cemeteries, aftermath.