obelisk

views updated

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

obelisk

views updated

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

obelisk

views updated

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.

obelisk

views updated

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’.

obelisk

views updated

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.