Y is for Yana: Cemetery landscapes are laden with symbols inherited from the ancient Greeks, to whom Americans trace their roots as a democracy. The urn is one of those symbols. It was used to contain the ashes of the dead. Problem: The Greeks were pagans. The concept of "ashes to ashes and dust to dust," however, has deep Biblical roots (Gen 3:19 and 18:27; Job 30:19). It's a reminder of the mortality of the body and, by contrast, the everlasting life of the soul. Alexandria Cemetery.