obelisk

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obelisk. Lofty, four-sided, often monolithic shaft, on a square or rectangular plan, tapering (i.e. diminishing) upwards, usually covered with hieroglyphs, with a pyramidal top. An Ancient Egyptian form, obelisks were found in pairs, flanking axes, such as a temple dromos, but on their introduction to Europe from the time of Augustus (27 BC—AD 14), when the first Egyptian obelisks were re-erected in Rome from 10 BC, they were usually treated as single free-standing objects. They were again set up singly in Renaissance Rome, this time on pedestals, where they stand today as the centrepieces of major urban spaces (e.g. Piazza di San Pietro, Piazza del Pòpolo), and were widely copied as a form in Northern-European Mannerist work. Subsequently, obelisks were used as eye-catchers, memorials, and the like, such as Morrison's Ross Monument, Rostrevor, Co. Down (1826): it (like many C19 European and American obelisks) is not a monolith, but constructed of ashlar.

Bibliography

J. Curl (2005);
Habachi (1984);
Iversen (1968);
Roullet (1972);
Jane Turner

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obelisk (ŏb´əlĬsk), slender four-sided tapering monument, usually hewn of a single great piece of stone, terminating in a pointed or pyramidal top. Among the ancient Egyptians these monoliths were commonly of red granite from Syene and were dedicated to the sun god. They were placed in pairs before the temples, one on either side of the portal. The greatest number erected in any one place was in Heliopolis, but eventually almost every temple entrance was flanked by a pair of them. Down each of the four faces, in most cases, ran a line of deeply incised hieroglyphs and representations, setting forth the names and titles of the Pharaoh. The cap, or pyramidion, was sometimes sheathed with copper or other metal. Obelisks of colossal size were first raised in the XII dynasty. Of those still standing in Egypt, one remains at Heliopolis and two at Al Karnak, one from the time of Thutmose I and one of Queen Hatshepsut which is estimated to be 97.5 ft (29.7 m) high. Many of the historic shafts have been carried from Egypt, notably one of the reign of Ramses II from Luxor, now in the Place de la Concorde, Paris, and Cleopatra's Needles in London and New York. Others are in Rome and Florence. In the United States two familiar structures of obelisk form (though not monoliths) are the Washington and the Bunker Hill monuments.

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ob·e·lisk / ˈäbəˌlisk/ • n. 1. a stone pillar, typically having a square or rectangular cross section and a pyramidal top, set up as a monument or landmark. ∎  a mountain, tree, or other natural object of similar shape. 2. another term for obelus.

obelisk

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obelisk Stone monolith, which usually has a tapering, square-based column with a pyramid-shaped point. Pairs of obelisks stood at the entrance to ancient Egyptian temples, such as Karnak (Luxor). The two Cleopatra's needles in New York's Central Park and on London's Thames Embankment, date from 1500 bc long before Cleopatra's reign.

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obelisk a stone pillar, typically having a square or rectangular cross section, set up as a monument or landmark, originally in ancient Egypt. Recorded from the mid 16th century, the word comes via Latin from Greek obeliskos, diminutive of obelos ‘pointed pillar’.

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obelisk tapering column of stone; any of the signs −, ÷, †. XVI. — L. obeliscus small spit, obelisk — Gr. obelískos, dim. of obelós spit, pointed pillar.
So obelus (in second sense) XIV. — late L. — Gr.