Online Encyclopedia

OBELISK (Gr. b/3EXivrcos, diminutive ...

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 946 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!

OBELISK (Gr. b/3EXivrcos, diminutive of OEMs, a
See also:
spit)
  , a form of monumental pillar; and also the
See also:
term for a bibliographical reference-mark in the form of a
See also:
dagger . The typical
See also:
Egyptian obelisk is an upright monolith of nearly square section, generally to diameters in height, the sides slightly
See also:
convex, tapering up-wards very gradually and evenly, and terminated by a pyramidion whose faces are inclined at an angle of 6o° . Obelisks were usually raised on pedestals of cubical form resting on one or two steps, and were set up in pairs in front of the entrance of temples . Small obelisks have been found in tombs of the age of the Old
See also:
Kingdom . The earliest temple obelisk still in position is that of Senwosri I. of the XIIth Dynasty at
See also:
Heliopolis (68 ft. high) . A pair of Rameses II . (77 and 75 ft. high respectively) stood at
See also:
Luxor until one of them was taken to Paris in 1831 . Single ones of Tethmosis I. and Hatshepsut (109 ft. high) still stand at
See also:
Karnak and remains of others exist there and elsewhere in
See also:
Egypt .
See also:
Colossal granite obelisks were erected by only a few kings, Senwosri I. in the
See also:
Middle Kingdom and Tethmosis I., Hatshepsut, Tethmosis III. and Rameses II. of the
See also:
Empire . Smaller obelisks were made in the Saite period . The Romans admired them, and the emperors carried off some from their
See also:
original sites and caused others to be made in imitation (e.g. that for
See also:
Antinous at
See also:
Benevento): twelve are at Rome, one in Constantinople; two, originally set up by Tethmosis III. at Heliopolis, were taken by Augustus to adorn the Caesareum at Alexandria: one of these, "
See also:
Cleopatra's Needle," was removed in 1877 to
See also:
London, the other in 1879 to New York . Such obelisks were probably more than mere embellishments of the temples .

The pyramidions were sheathed in

bright metal, catching and reflecting the sun's rays as if they were thrones of the sunlight . They were dedicated to solar deities, and were especially numerous at Heliopolis, where there was probably a single one sacred to the sun of immemorial antiquity . The
See also:
principal
See also:
part of the sun-temple at Abusir built by Neuserre of the Vth Dynasty appears to have been in the shape of a stumpy obelisk on a vast scale, only the
See also:
base now remains, but hieroglyphic pictures indicate this form . The hieroglyph of some other early sun- temples shows a disk on the pyramidion The material employed for the
See also:
great obelisks was a
See also:
pink granite from the quarries of Syene, and in these quarries there still remains, partially detached, an example 70 to 8o ft. long . The largest obelisk known is that in the piazza of St John Lateran at Rome; this had been set up by Tethmosis III. at Heliopolis in the 15th century B.C., was brought over from Egypt by
See also:
Constantine the Great and erected in the Circus Maximus, being ultimately re-erected in 1552 by Pope
See also:
Sixtus V . It was 105 ft. q in. high, including the pyramidion, and its sides measured 9 ft. ro in. and 9 ft . 8 in. respectively . On the base of the magnificent obelisk of Hatshepsut at Karnak, 97 ft . 6 in. high, there is an inscription stating that it and its
See also:
fellow were made within the short space of seven months . In consequence of the breaking away of the
See also:
lower part of " Cleopatra's Needles " when removed to Alexandria and re-erected, the
See also:
Roman engineers supported the angles on
See also:
bronze crabs, one of which with three reproductions now supports the angles of the obelisk on the
See also:
Thames
See also:
Embankment . There was another form of obelisk, also tapering, but more squat than the usual type, with two of the sides narrow and terminating in a rounded top . One such of Senwosri I., covered with sculpture and inscriptions, lies at Ebgig in the
See also:
Fayum .

Stelae, inscribed with the names of the kings, occurred in pairs in the royal tombs of the Ist Dynasty at

See also:
Abydos, and pairs of small obelisks are said to have been found in private tombs of the IVth Dynasty . The origin of the obelisk may be sought in sacred upright stones set up in honour of gods and dead, like the menhirs, and the Semitic Massebahs and bethels . In Abyssinia, at Axum and elsewhere, there is a marvellous series of obelisk-like monuments, probably sepulchral . They range from rude menhirs a few feet high to elaborately sculptured monoliths of loo ft . The loftiest of those still
See also:
standing at Axum is about 6o ft. high, 8 ft . 7 in. wide, and about 18 in. thick, and is terminated by a rounded
See also:
apex
See also:
united by a necking to the shaft . The back of the obelisk is plain, but the front and sides are subdivided into storeys by a series of bands and plates, each storey having panels sunk into it which seem to represent windows with mullions and transom . These architectural decorations are derived from a style of
See also:
building found by the
See also:
recent German expedition extant in an ancient church; courses of stone here alternate in the walls (both inside and out) with beams of wood held by circular clamps . In front of the best-preserved obelisk is a raised altar with holes sunk in it apparently to receive the
See also:
blood of the sacrifice to the ancestors . Most of these must date before the adoption of
See also:
Christianity as the state religion in the 6th century . See G . Maspero, L'Archeologie egyptienne (new ed., Paris, 1907), p .

105 ; H . H . Gorringe, Egyptian Obelisks (New York, 1882; London, 1885, &c.); F . W. von Bissing and L . Borchardt, Das Re-Heiligtum

See also:
des Konigs Ne-woser-Re (Berlin, 1905) ; on the ancient method of raising obelisks, L . Borchardt, " Zur Baugeschichte des Amonstempel von Karnak," in Sethe's Untersuchungen zur Geschichte and Altertumskunde Aegyptens, v . 15 . For the Abyssinian obelisks see especially E . Littmann and D . Krencker, Vorbericht der deutschen Aksum Expedition (Berlin, 1906) . (F . LL .

End of Article: OBELISK (Gr. b/3EXivrcos, diminutive of OEMs, a spit)
[back]
OBC
[next]
OBERAMMERGAU

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.