All over the world, the choice of entombment inside a Mausoleum is steeped in tradition.
In Biblical times, tombs were already used by the more prosperous, who prepared them well in advance of their demise. The story of Joseph of Arimathea, honoring Jesus with the use of his tomb in the New Testament, is an illustration of this.
Pharaohs in ancient Egypt had great pyramids constructed to serve as their tombs in advance of their deaths.The Taj Mahal was already known as one of the most beautiful tombs in the world. The ancient Catacombs of Rome, the tombs inside Westminster Abby, the Vatican, and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier were Mausoleums to follow, and have become famous monuments in their own right.
Today, with modern construction, and efficient use of space, mausoleum entombment is no longer reserved only for the wealthiest of society. It allows for a casket to be permanently sealed in an above ground enclosure, therefore not exposed to the natural elements of a ground burial.
The mausoleum, itself, is constructed of reinforced concrete, and "faced" with beautiful, polished granite or marble fronts on the exterior. The crypts inside are ventilated, allowing the area to stay dry. When an entombment is made, the casket is placed on a liner inside the crypt, the vents are opened, and the crypt is then sealed from the outside, no longer exposed to the elements. The front of the crypt is put back in place, and names, birth and death dates or other information can be memorialized with bronze letters. In some cases, this information can be chiseled into the polished stone.
Leaving a lasting memorial to remember those who have died is a time-honored tradition. From the pyramids to the Taj Mahal to the Vietnam Memorial, people from across time and cultures have found meaning in honoring the dead in an enduring form. Modern day memorials may be placed in close proximity to where the urn or casket is, or may be just a reminder of one who has died but who rests elsewhere.