From the very, very helpful website of The Association for Gravestone Studies:
"The obelisk is, to quote McDowell and Meyer in The Revival Styles in American Memorial Art, one of the "most pervasive of all the revival forms" of cemetery art. There is hardly a cemetery founded in the 1840s and 50s without some form of Egyptian influence in the public buildings, gates, tomb art, etc. Napoleon's 1798-99 Egyptian campaigns, the discoveries at the tombs of the Pharaohs, and our new Republic's need to borrow the best of the ancient cultures (Greek revival, classic revival, the prominence of classical studies and dress, etc.) led to a resurgence of interest in the ancient Egyptian culture. Obelisks were considered to be tasteful, with pure uplifting lines, associated with ancient greatness, patriotic, able to be used in relatively small spaces, and, perhaps most importantly, obelisks were less costly than large and elaborate sculpted monuments. "
Photograph taken by Susan in the 1851 South Easton Cemetery. More obelisks tomorrow!