What Is The Difference Between An Obelisk And A Stele

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What Is The Difference Between An Obelisk And A Stele
What Is The Difference Between An Obelisk And A Stele

Video: What Is The Difference Between An Obelisk And A Stele


Both steles and obelisks are among the memorial signs dedicated to any significant events. Both can be a gravestone. Meanwhile, the difference between such monuments is obvious, and they should not be confused.

Aksum obelisk in Ethiopia
Aksum obelisk in Ethiopia

Both obelisks and steles in different historical eras were made of different materials: marble, granite or some other stone, even wood. Both obelisks and steles were inscribed with inscriptions. These memorial signs differ in their form.

An obelisk is a column, most often in the form of a pillar tapering upward. Most often, such a column has a square cross section, but there are also obelisks in the form of a cone. Stella looks like a slab, not a pillar.


The word "obelisk" is of Greek origin, but the very first obelisks appeared not in Greece, but in Ancient Egypt. They were made from red granite. It was not easy! So, the inscription above one of the Egyptian obelisks located in Karnak says that it took seven months to make it!

Egyptian obelisks are tapering tetrahedral pillars. On all four faces, hieroglyphic inscriptions were carved in which the Egyptians praised their gods, first of all - the sun god Ra, as well as the pharaohs, also ranked among the gods. Many obelisks are decorated with pyramidal peaks, plated with an alloy of silver and gold.

The tradition of building obelisks from the Egyptians was borrowed by many peoples of the Ancient World. Obelisks began to be erected in Phenicia, Assyria, Ethiopia.

After conquering Egypt, the Romans transported many Egyptian obelisks to Rome. After that, they began to erect their own obelisks in Rome, but they also had practical significance: they were used as columns of a sundial.

In Europe, the tradition of erecting obelisks was forgotten in the Middle Ages, but revived in the Renaissance and has not been interrupted to this day. In Russia, obelisks began to be erected under Catherine II.

The tallest obelisk in the world is located in Washington, DC, between the Capitol and the White House. This is a Washington Monument, its height exceeds 169 meters.


Like obelisks, steles appeared in ancient times. One of the most ancient steles is the one on which the code of laws of the Babylonian king Hammurabi, who ruled in 1793-1750, is inscribed in cuneiform. BC. This stele is made of diorite, a rock of magmatic origin.

Another famous ancient stele is known as the Rosetta Stone. This stele was found in Egypt, and it is remarkable because the text on it is inscribed in three versions: in the ancient Egyptian language - in hieroglyphs and in a later demotic script and in ancient Greek. Scientists have long known the ancient Greek language, and thanks to the Rosetta stone, the deciphering of ancient Egyptian texts began.

But they were especially fond of steles in China, where they were erected both at the behest of the emperors and at the initiative of temples. In this country, in the city of Xi'an, there is even a museum called "Stele Forest", where you can see steles created in different periods of Chinese history.

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