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Books remind us that tombstones are documents, bearing vital statistics and epitaphs concerning the deceased. Books may be open, possibly to signify that the stone is a kind of biography, or closed in recognition of the fact that the story of the dead is over.

The book on a tombstone may be The Book or The Bible. This identification can be clinched by the prescence of a citation (e.g. John 19:14) or an actual line of scripture. Arabic characters identify the book as the Koran.

Photo: Burying Ground, Wellfleet, Massachusetts
Copyright 2000 by Joel GAzis-SAx