The minutes of the Ancona City Council of November 7, 1428, record that Sabbatuccio Venturello received land in Cardeto right outside Porta San Pietro to set up a Jewish cemetery. In order to extend the burial grounds, in 1711 the Jewish community bought a garden from the convent of San Francesco alle Scale, in an adjacent location. The cemetery is known as Campo degli Ebrei. The large lawn, oriented towards Jerusalem, is situated on gentle slopes overlooking the Adriatic. Over the centuries, many stones have fallen from the eroding cliffs, but the site has recently undergone a complete preservation project.
In 1863, when the Agency of Civil Engineers occupied a land adjoining the cemetery of Cardeto, the city administration allowed the Jewish community to built a new cemetery in Tavernelle.
Cardareto presents an interesting variety of tombstones. The oldest are square-shaped, ranging from the simple type, with a rounded top, to the gable-type, which have carved scrolls, ribbons, flowers and coat of arms. There are only 4 stones laid horizontally on the ground, also know as sarcophagus type.
Starting in 1591, there are cylindrical stones, a type found in other cemeteries of Marche, but rare in other Italian regions. Stele style tombstones are the most common in the Jewish cemeteries of Central and Eastern Europe. After the 16th century, there is a preponderance of cylindrical stones in the cemetery of Ancona, a possible import from Turkey or an influence of the Jews from the Iberian peninsula.
The decorations adorning the headstones display a great variety. The Jews of Ancona hired the same stonecutters and engravers working for the Christian population. Stone-cutters were given general ritual guidelines, but were free to apply styles and decorative motives in fashion at the time.
Graves provide valuable information for many fields of research. Each compositional element, in addition to conveying a meaning, also has a decorative function. Calligraphy and letter engraving is especially important in Arab-Jewish tradition, in which figuration is mostly absent. The engraving technique varies between straight carving and the so called “carattere gemmato” which was largely used in Renaissance Italy and originated a distinctive type of Hebrew letters.