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Stele

For other uses, see Stele (disambiguation). Several terms redirect here. For other uses of "Stela", see Stela (disambiguation). For the town, see Stelae (Crete). For the battle, see Battle of Stelai. For the Ten Commandments stone tablet, see Tablets of Stone.

A stele ( ), or occasionally stela (plural stelas or stelæ), when derived from Latin, is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected in the ancient world as a monument. The surface of the stele often has text, ornamentation, or both. These may be inscribed, carved in relief, or painted.

Stele N from Copán, Honduras, depicting King K'ac Yipyaj Chan K'awiil ("Smoke Shell"), as drawn by Frederick Catherwood in 1839
Stele to the French 8th Infantry Regiment. One of more than half a dozen steles located on the Waterloo battlefield.

Stelae were created for many reasons. Grave stelae were used for funerary or commemorative purposes. Stelae as slabs of stone would also be used as ancient Greek and Roman government notices or as boundary markers to mark borders or property lines. Stelae were occasionally erected as memorials to battles. For example, along with other memorials, there are more than half-a-dozen steles erected on the battlefield of Waterloo at the locations of notable actions by participants in battle.

Traditional Western gravestones may technically be considered the modern equivalent of ancient stelae, though the term is very rarely applied in this way. Equally, stele-like forms in non-Western cultures may be called by other terms, and the words "stele" and "stelae" are most consistently applied in archaeological contexts to objects from Europe, the ancient Near East and Egypt, China, and sometimes Pre-Columbian America.

Contents

The funerary stele of Thrasea and Euandria,c. 365 BC

Steles have also been used to publish laws and decrees, to record a ruler's exploits and honors, to mark sacred territories or mortgaged properties, as territorial markers, as the boundary steles of Akhenaton at Amarna, or to commemorate military victories. They were widely used in the ancient Near East, Mesopotamia, Greece, Egypt, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and, most likely independently, in China and elsewhere in the Far East, and, independently, by Mesoamerican civilisations, notably the Olmec and Maya.

Stela of Iddi-Sin, King of Simurrum. It dates back to the Old Babylonian Period. From Qarachatan Village, Sulaymaniyah Governorate, Iraqi Kurdistan. The Sulaymaniyah Museum, Iraq.

The large number of steles, including inscriptions, surviving from ancient Egypt and in Central America constitute one of the largest and most significant sources of information on those civilisations, in particular Maya stelae. The most famous example of an inscribed stela leading to increased understanding is the Rosetta Stone, which led to the breakthrough allowing Egyptian hieroglyphs to be read. An informative stele of Tiglath-Pileser III is preserved in the British Museum. Two steles built into the walls of a church are major documents relating to the Etruscan language.

Standing stones (menhirs), set up without inscriptions from Libya in North Africa to Scotland, were monuments of pre-literate Megalithic cultures in the Late Stone Age. The Pictish stones of Scotland, often intricately carved, date from between the 6th and 9th centuries.

An obelisk is a specialized kind of stele. The Insular high crosses of Ireland and Britain are specialized steles. Totem poles of North and South America that are made out of stone may also be considered a specialized type of stele. Gravestones, typically with inscribed name and often with inscribed epitaph, are among the most common types of stele seen in Western culture.

Most recently, in the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, the architect Peter Eisenman created a field of some 2,700 blank steles. The memorial is meant to be read not only as the field, but also as an erasure of data that refer to memory of the Holocaust.

Egypt

Egyptian hieroglyphs on an Egyptian funerary stela in Manchester Museum

Egyptian steles (or Stelae, Books of Stone) have been found dating as far back as the First Dynasty of Egypt. These vertical slabs of stone are used as tombstones, for religious usage, and to mark boundaries, and are most commonly made of limestone and sandstone, or harder kinds of stone such as granite or diorite, but wood was also used in later times.

Stele fulfilled several functions. There were votive, commemorative, and liminal or boundary stelae, but the largest group was the tomb stelae. Their picture area showed the owner of the stele, often with his family, and an inscription listed the name and titles of the deceased after a prayer to one, or several, of the gods of the dead and request for offerings. Less frequently, an autobiographical text provided additional information about the individuals life.

In the mastaba tombs of the Old Kingdom (2686 - 2181 BC), stelae functioned as false doors, symbolizing passage between the present and the afterlife, which allowed the deceased to received offerings. These were both real and represented by formulae on the false door.

Liminal, or boundary, stele were used to mark size and location of fields and the country's borders. Votive stelae were exclusively erected in temples by pilgrims to pay homage to the gods or sacred animals. Commemorative stelae were placed in temples by the pharaoh, or his senior officials, detailing important events of his reign. Some of the most widely known Egyptian stelae include: the Kamose Stelae, recounting the defeat of the Hyksos; the Victory Stele, describing the campaigns of the Nubian pharaoh Piye as he reconquered the country; the Restoration Stele of Tutankhamun (1336 - 1327 BC), detailing the religious reforms enacted after the Amarna period; and the Merneptah Stele, which features the first known historical mention of the Israelites. In Ptolemaic times (332 - 30 BC), decrees issued by the pharaoh and the priesthood were inscribed on stelae in hieroglyphs, demotic script and Greek, the most famous example of which is the Rosetta Stone.

Urartu

Urartian steles were freestanding stone obelisks that served a variety of purposes, sometimes they were located within temple complexes, or set within monumental rock-cut niches (such as the niche of the Rock of Van, discovered by Marr and Orbeli in 1916) or erected beside tombs. Others stood in isolated positions and, such as the Kelashin Stele, had a commemorative function or served as boundary markers. Although sometimes plain, most bore a cuneiform inscription that would detail the stele's function or the reasons for its erection. The stele from Van's "western niche" contained annals of the reign of Sarduri II, with events detailed yearly and with each year separated by the phrase "For the God Haldi I accomplished these deeds". Urartian steles are sometimes found reused as Christian Armenian gravestones or as spolia in Armenian churches - Maranci suggests this reuse was a deliberate desire to capitalize on the potency of the past. Some scholars have suggested Urartian steles may have influenced the development of the Armenian khachkar.

Greece

Greek funerary markers, especially in Attica, had a long and evolutionary history in Athens. From public and extravagant processional funerals to different types of pottery used to store ashes after cremation, visibility has always been a large part of Ancient Greek funerary markers in Athens. Regarding stelai (Greek plural of stele), in the period of the Archaic style in Ancient Athens (600 BC) stele often showed certain archetypes of figures, such as the male athlete. Generally their figures were singular, though there are instances of two or more figures from this time period. Moving into the 6th and 5th centuries BC, Greek stelai declined and then rose in popularity again in Athens and evolved to show scenes with multiple figures, often of a family unit or a household scene. One such notable example is the Stele of Hegeso. Typically grave stelai are made of marble and carved in relief, and like most Ancient Greek sculpture they were vibrantly painted. For more examples of stelai, the Getty Museum's published Catalog of Greek Funerary Sculpture is a valuable resource

China

A bixi-born Yan Temple Renovation Stele dated Year 9 of Zhizheng era in Yuan Dynasty (AD 1349), in Qufu, Shandong, China
Chinese ink rubbings of the 1489 (left) and 1512 (right) steles left by the Kaifeng Jews.

Steles (Chinese: bēi ) have been the major medium of stone inscription in China since the Tang dynasty. Chinese steles are generally rectangular stone tablets upon which Chinese characters are carved intaglio with a funerary, commemorative, or edifying text. They can commemorate talented writers and officials, inscribe poems, portraits, or maps, and frequently contain the calligraphy of famous historical figures. In addition to their commemorative value, many Chinese steles are regarded as exemplars of traditional Chinese calligraphic scripts, especially the clerical script.

Chinese steles from before the Tang dynasty are rare: there are a handful from before the Qin dynasty, roughly a dozen from the Western Han, 160 from the Eastern Han, and several hundred from the Wei, Jin, Northern and Southern, and Sui dynasties. During the Han dynasty, tomb inscriptions (墓誌, mùzhì) containing biographical information on deceased people began to be written on stone tablets rather than wooden ones.

Erecting steles at tombs or temples eventually became a widespread social and religious phenomenon. Emperors found it necessary to promulgate laws, regulating the use of funerary steles by the population. The Ming dynasty laws, instituted in the 14th century by its founder the Hongwu Emperor, listed a number of stele types available as status symbols to various ranks of the nobility and officialdom: the top noblemen and mandarins were eligible for steles installed on top of a stone tortoise and crowned with hornless dragons, while the lower-level officials had to be satisfied with steles with plain rounded tops, standing on simple rectangular pedestals.

Steles are found at nearly every significant mountain and historical site in China. The First Emperor made five tours of his domain in the 3rd century BC and had Li Si make seven stone inscriptions commemorating and praising his work, of which fragments of two survive. One of the most famous mountain steles is the 13 m (43 ft) high stele at Mount Tai with the personal calligraphy of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang commemorating his imperial sacrifices there in 725.

A number of such stone monuments have preserved the origin and history of China's minority religious communities. The 8th-century Christians of Xi'an left behind the Nestorian Stele, which survived adverse events of the later history by being buried underground for several centuries. Steles created by the Kaifeng Jews in 1489, 1512, and 1663, have survived the repeated flooding of the Yellow River that destroyed their synagogue several times, to tell us something about their world. China's Muslim have a number of steles of considerable antiquity as well, often containing both Chinese and Arabic text.

Thousands of steles, surplus to the original requirements, and no longer associated with the person they were erected for or to, have been assembled in Xi'an's Stele Forest Museum, which is a popular tourist attraction. Elsewhere, many unwanted steles can also be found in selected places in Beijing, such as Dong Yue Miao, the Five Pagoda Temple, and the Bell Tower, again assembled to attract tourists and also as a means of solving the problem faced by local authorities of what to do with them. The long, wordy, and detailed inscriptions on these steles are almost impossible to read for most are lightly engraved on white marble in characters only an inch or so in size, thus being difficult to see since the slabs are often 3m or more tall.

There are more than 100,000 surviving stone inscriptions in China. However, only approximately 30,000 have been transcribed or had rubbings made, and fewer than those 30,000 have been formally studied.

Stela 51 from Calakmul, dating to 731, is the best preserved monument from the city. It depicts the king Yuknoom Took' K'awiil.
Stela H, a high-relief in-the-round sculpture from Copán in Honduras

Maya stelae

Main article: Maya stelae

Maya stelae were fashioned by the Maya civilization of ancient Mesoamerica. They consist of tall sculpted stone shafts or slabs and are often associated with low circular stones referred to as altars, although their actual function is uncertain. Many stelae were sculpted in low relief, although plain monuments are found throughout the Maya region. The sculpting of these monuments spread throughout the Maya area during the Classic Period (250–900 AD), and these pairings of sculpted stelae and circular altars are considered a hallmark of Classic Maya civilization. The earliest dated stela to have been found in situ in the Maya lowlands was recovered from the great city of Tikal in Guatemala. During the Classic Period almost every Maya kingdom in the southern lowlands raised stelae in its ceremonial centre.

Stelae became closely associated with the concept of divine kingship and declined at the same time as this institution. The production of stelae by the Maya had its origin around 400 BC and continued through to the end of the Classic Period, around 900, although some monuments were reused in the Postclassic (c. 900–1521). The major city of Calakmul in Mexico raised the greatest number of stelae known from any Maya city, at least 166, although they are very poorly preserved.

Hundreds of stelae have been recorded in the Maya region, displaying a wide stylistic variation. Many are upright slabs of limestone sculpted on one or more faces, with available surfaces sculpted with figures carved in relief and with hieroglyphic text. Stelae in a few sites display a much more three-dimensional appearance where locally available stone permits, such as at Copán and Toniná. Plain stelae do not appear to have been painted nor overlaid with stucco decoration, but most Maya stelae were probably brightly painted in red, yellow, black, blue and other colours.

Ireland

Ogham stone in Ratass Church, Ireland

Ogham stones are vertical grave and boundary markers, erected at hundreds of sites in Ireland throughout the first millennium AD, bearing inscriptions in the Primitive Irish language. They have occasionally been described as "steles."

Horn of Africa

A sword symbol on a stele at Tiya

The Horn of Africa contains many stelae. In the highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Axumites erected a number of large stelae, which served a religious purpose in pre-Christian times. One of these granite columns is the largest such structure in the world, standing at 90 feet.

Additionally, Tiya is one of nine megalithic pillar sites in the central Gurage Zone of Ethiopia. As of 1997, 118 stele were reported in the area. Along with the stelae in the Hadiya Zone, the structures are identified by local residents as Yegragn Dingay or "Gran's stone", in reference to Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi (Ahmad "Gurey" or "Gran"), ruler of the Adal Sultanate.

The stelae at Tiya and other areas in central Ethiopia are similar to those on the route between Djibouti City and Loyada in Djibouti. In the latter area, there are a number of anthropomorphic and phallic stelae, which are associated with graves of rectangular shape flanked by vertical slabs. The Djibouti-Loyada stelae are of uncertain age, and some of them are adorned with a T-shaped symbol.

Near the ancient northwestern town of Amud in Somalia, whenever an old site had the prefix Aw in its name (such as the ruins of Awbare and Awbube), it denoted the final resting place of a local saint. Surveys by A.T. Curle in 1934 on several of these important ruined cities recovered various artefacts, such as pottery and coins, which point to a medieval period of activity at the tail end of the Adal Sultanate's reign. Among these settlements, Aw Barkhadle is surrounded by a number of ancient stelae. Burial sites near Burao likewise feature old stelae.

King Ezana's stele at Aksum
A victory stele of Naram-Sin, a 23rd-century BC Mesopotamian king.
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  1. Anglicized plural steles ( ); Greek plural stelai ( ), from Greekστήλη, stēlē. The Greek plural is writtenστήλαι, stēlai, but this is only rarely encountered in English.
  1. Commons:Category:Battle of Waterloo steles; Timmermans, D. (7 March 2012). "Waterloo Campaign". The British monuments.
  2. Collon
  3. Memoirs By Egypt Exploration Society Archaeological Survey of Egypt 1908, p. 19
  4. e.g., Piye's victory stela (M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature Vol 3, The University of California Press 1980, pp. 66ff) or Shalmaneser's stela at Saluria (Boardman, op. cit., p. 335)
  5. Pool, op. cit., p. 265
  6. Pool, op. cit., p. 277
  7. Till (2005): 168.
  8. Strudwick, Helen (2006). The Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. pp. 214–223. ISBN 978-1-4351-4654-9.
  9. Dunn, Jimmy. "The Stelae of Ancient Egypt". Tour Egypt. Retrieved8 July 2014.
  10. Allen, Thomas George (1936). "Egyptian Stelae in Field Museum of Natural History". Biodiversity Heritage Library. RetrievedMay 4, 2020.
  11. G. Azarpay, Urartian Art and Artifacts, 1968, p32.
  12. C. Maranci, Vigilant Powers: Three Churches of Early Medieval Armenia, 2015, p177-182.
  13. C. Maranci, Vigilant Powers: Three Churches of Early Medieval Armenia, 2015, footnote 311 on page 198.
  14. Caskey, L. D. “An Archaic Greek Grave Stele in Boston.” American Journal of Archaeology 15.3 (1911): 293. CrossRef. Web.
  15. Robinson, Edward. “An Archaic Greek Grave Monument.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 8.5 (1913): 94. CrossRef. Web.
  16. Campbell, Gordon. The Grove Encyclopedia of Classical Art and Architecture. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.
  17. Grossman, Janet Burnett. Greek Funerary Sculpture : Catalogue of the Collections at the Getty Villa. Los Angeles: JPaul Getty Museum, 2001. Print.
  18. Endymion Wilkinson, Chinese History: A Manual (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard-Yenching Institute, 2000): 436.
  19. Wilkinson (2000): 436-437.
  20. "The Stele of Mount Hua Temple at The West Alp". Vincent's Calligraphy. Retrieved2017-05-16.
  21. Wilkinson (2000): 437.
  22. de Groot, Jan Jakob Maria (1892), The Religious System of China, II, Brill Archive, pp. 451–452.
  23. Wilkinson (2000): 438.
  24. Martin & Grube 2000, p. 113. sfn error: no target: CITEREFMartinGrube2000 (help)
  25. Miller 1999, p. 9.
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  27. Stuart 1996, p. 149.
  28. Sharer & Traxler 2006, p. 235.
  29. Stewart 2009, p. 8.
  30. Stuart 1996, p. 158.
  31. Sharer & Traxler 2006, p. 183.
  32. Goudsward, David (5 May 2014). Ancient Stone Sites of New England and the Debate Over Early European Exploration. McFarland. ISBN 9781476604862 – via Google Books.
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  35. Brockman, Norbert (2011). Encyclopedia of Sacred Places, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 30. ISBN 978-1598846546.
  36. Fukui, Katsuyoshi (1997). Ethiopia in broader perspective: papers of the XIIIth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies Kyoto 12-17 December 1997. Shokado Book Sellers. p. 370. ISBN 4879749761. Retrieved23 December 2014.
  37. Fattovich, Rodolfo (1987). "Some remarks on the origins of the Aksumite Stelae"(PDF). Annales d'Éthiopie. 14 (14): 43–69. doi:10.3406/ethio.1987.931. Archived from the original(PDF) on 2015-09-24. Retrieved7 September 2014.
  38. Lewis, I.M. (1998). Saints and Somalis: Popular Islam in a Clan-based Society. The Red Sea Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-1-56902-103-3.
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Stele
Stele Language Watch Edit For other uses see Stele disambiguation Several terms redirect here For other uses of Stela see Stela disambiguation For the town see Stelae Crete For the battle see Battle of Stelai For the Ten Commandments stone tablet see Tablets of Stone A stele ˈ s t iː l i STEE lee Note 1 or occasionally stela plural stelas or stelae when derived from Latin is a stone or wooden slab generally taller than it is wide erected in the ancient world as a monument The surface of the stele often has text ornamentation or both These may be inscribed carved in relief or painted Stele N from Copan Honduras depicting King K ac Yipyaj Chan K awiil Smoke Shell as drawn by Frederick Catherwood in 1839 Stele to the French 8th Infantry Regiment One of more than half a dozen steles located on the Waterloo battlefield Stelae were created for many reasons Grave stelae were used for funerary or commemorative purposes Stelae as slabs of stone would also be used as ancient Greek and Roman government notices or as boundary markers to mark borders or property lines Stelae were occasionally erected as memorials to battles For example along with other memorials there are more than half a dozen steles erected on the battlefield of Waterloo at the locations of notable actions by participants in battle 1 Traditional Western gravestones may technically be considered the modern equivalent of ancient stelae though the term is very rarely applied in this way Equally stele like forms in non Western cultures may be called by other terms and the words stele and stelae are most consistently applied in archaeological contexts to objects from Europe the ancient Near East and Egypt 2 China and sometimes Pre Columbian America Contents 1 History 1 1 Egypt 1 2 Urartu 1 3 Greece 1 4 China 1 5 Maya stelae 1 6 Ireland 1 7 Horn of Africa 2 Notable steles 3 Gallery 4 See also 5 Notes 6 References 7 Bibliography 8 External linksHistory Edit The funerary stele of Thrasea and Euandria c 365 BC Steles have also been used to publish laws and decrees to record a ruler s exploits and honors to mark sacred territories or mortgaged properties as territorial markers as the boundary steles of Akhenaton at Amarna 3 or to commemorate military victories 4 They were widely used in the ancient Near East Mesopotamia Greece Egypt Somalia Eritrea Ethiopia and most likely independently in China and elsewhere in the Far East and independently by Mesoamerican civilisations notably the Olmec 5 and Maya 6 Stela of Iddi Sin King of Simurrum It dates back to the Old Babylonian Period From Qarachatan Village Sulaymaniyah Governorate Iraqi Kurdistan The Sulaymaniyah Museum Iraq The large number of steles including inscriptions surviving from ancient Egypt and in Central America constitute one of the largest and most significant sources of information on those civilisations in particular Maya stelae The most famous example of an inscribed stela leading to increased understanding is the Rosetta Stone which led to the breakthrough allowing Egyptian hieroglyphs to be read An informative stele of Tiglath Pileser III is preserved in the British Museum Two steles built into the walls of a church are major documents relating to the Etruscan language Standing stones menhirs set up without inscriptions from Libya in North Africa to Scotland were monuments of pre literate Megalithic cultures in the Late Stone Age The Pictish stones of Scotland often intricately carved date from between the 6th and 9th centuries An obelisk is a specialized kind of stele The Insular high crosses of Ireland and Britain are specialized steles Totem poles of North and South America that are made out of stone may also be considered a specialized type of stele Gravestones typically with inscribed name and often with inscribed epitaph are among the most common types of stele seen in Western culture Most recently in the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin the architect Peter Eisenman created a field of some 2 700 blank steles 7 The memorial is meant to be read not only as the field but also as an erasure of data that refer to memory of the Holocaust Egypt Edit See also Art of ancient Egypt Stele Egyptian hieroglyphs on an Egyptian funerary stela in Manchester Museum Egyptian steles or Stelae Books of Stone 8 have been found dating as far back as the First Dynasty of Egypt These vertical slabs of stone are used as tombstones for religious usage and to mark boundaries 9 and are most commonly made of limestone and sandstone or harder kinds of stone such as granite or diorite but wood was also used in later times 10 8 Stele fulfilled several functions There were votive commemorative and liminal or boundary stelae but the largest group was the tomb stelae Their picture area showed the owner of the stele often with his family and an inscription listed the name and titles of the deceased after a prayer to one or several of the gods of the dead and request for offerings Less frequently an autobiographical text provided additional information about the individuals life 8 In the mastaba tombs of the Old Kingdom 2686 2181 BC stelae functioned as false doors symbolizing passage between the present and the afterlife which allowed the deceased to received offerings These were both real and represented by formulae on the false door 8 Liminal or boundary stele were used to mark size and location of fields and the country s borders Votive stelae were exclusively erected in temples by pilgrims to pay homage to the gods or sacred animals Commemorative stelae were placed in temples by the pharaoh or his senior officials detailing important events of his reign Some of the most widely known Egyptian stelae include the Kamose Stelae recounting the defeat of the Hyksos the Victory Stele describing the campaigns of the Nubian pharaoh Piye as he reconquered the country the Restoration Stele of Tutankhamun 1336 1327 BC detailing the religious reforms enacted after the Amarna period and the Merneptah Stele which features the first known historical mention of the Israelites In Ptolemaic times 332 30 BC decrees issued by the pharaoh and the priesthood were inscribed on stelae in hieroglyphs demotic script and Greek the most famous example of which is the Rosetta Stone 10 8 Urartu Edit Urartian steles were freestanding stone obelisks that served a variety of purposes sometimes they were located within temple complexes or set within monumental rock cut niches such as the niche of the Rock of Van discovered by Marr and Orbeli in 1916 11 or erected beside tombs Others stood in isolated positions and such as the Kelashin Stele had a commemorative function or served as boundary markers Although sometimes plain most bore a cuneiform inscription that would detail the stele s function or the reasons for its erection The stele from Van s western niche contained annals of the reign of Sarduri II with events detailed yearly and with each year separated by the phrase For the God Haldi I accomplished these deeds 11 Urartian steles are sometimes found reused as Christian Armenian gravestones or as spolia in Armenian churches Maranci suggests this reuse was a deliberate desire to capitalize on the potency of the past 12 Some scholars have suggested Urartian steles may have influenced the development of the Armenian khachkar 13 Greece Edit Stele of Arniadas at the Archaeological Museum of Corfu Greek funerary markers especially in Attica had a long and evolutionary history in Athens From public and extravagant processional funerals to different types of pottery used to store ashes after cremation visibility has always been a large part of Ancient Greek funerary markers in Athens Regarding stelai Greek plural of stele in the period of the Archaic style in Ancient Athens 600 BC stele often showed certain archetypes of figures such as the male athlete 14 Generally their figures were singular though there are instances of two or more figures from this time period 15 Moving into the 6th and 5th centuries BC Greek stelai declined and then rose in popularity again in Athens and evolved to show scenes with multiple figures often of a family unit or a household scene One such notable example is the Stele of Hegeso Typically grave stelai are made of marble and carved in relief and like most Ancient Greek sculpture they were vibrantly painted 16 For more examples of stelai the Getty Museum s published Catalog of Greek Funerary Sculpture is a valuable resource 17 China Edit A bixi born Yan Temple Renovation Stele dated Year 9 of Zhizheng era in Yuan Dynasty AD 1349 in Qufu Shandong China Chinese ink rubbings of the 1489 left and 1512 right steles left by the Kaifeng Jews Steles Chinese bei 碑 have been the major medium of stone inscription in China since the Tang dynasty 18 Chinese steles are generally rectangular stone tablets upon which Chinese characters are carved intaglio with a funerary commemorative or edifying text They can commemorate talented writers and officials inscribe poems portraits or maps and frequently contain the calligraphy of famous historical figures 19 In addition to their commemorative value many Chinese steles are regarded as exemplars of traditional Chinese calligraphic scripts especially the clerical script 20 Chinese steles from before the Tang dynasty are rare there are a handful from before the Qin dynasty roughly a dozen from the Western Han 160 from the Eastern Han and several hundred from the Wei Jin Northern and Southern and Sui dynasties 21 During the Han dynasty tomb inscriptions 墓誌 muzhi containing biographical information on deceased people began to be written on stone tablets rather than wooden ones 21 Erecting steles at tombs or temples eventually became a widespread social and religious phenomenon Emperors found it necessary to promulgate laws regulating the use of funerary steles by the population The Ming dynasty laws instituted in the 14th century by its founder the Hongwu Emperor listed a number of stele types available as status symbols to various ranks of the nobility and officialdom the top noblemen and mandarins were eligible for steles installed on top of a stone tortoise and crowned with hornless dragons while the lower level officials had to be satisfied with steles with plain rounded tops standing on simple rectangular pedestals 22 Steles are found at nearly every significant mountain and historical site in China The First Emperor made five tours of his domain in the 3rd century BC and had Li Si make seven stone inscriptions commemorating and praising his work of which fragments of two survive 23 One of the most famous mountain steles is the 13 m 43 ft high stele at Mount Tai with the personal calligraphy of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang commemorating his imperial sacrifices there in 725 23 A number of such stone monuments have preserved the origin and history of China s minority religious communities The 8th century Christians of Xi an left behind the Nestorian Stele which survived adverse events of the later history by being buried underground for several centuries Steles created by the Kaifeng Jews in 1489 1512 and 1663 have survived the repeated flooding of the Yellow River that destroyed their synagogue several times to tell us something about their world China s Muslim have a number of steles of considerable antiquity as well often containing both Chinese and Arabic text Thousands of steles surplus to the original requirements and no longer associated with the person they were erected for or to have been assembled in Xi an s Stele Forest Museum which is a popular tourist attraction Elsewhere many unwanted steles can also be found in selected places in Beijing such as Dong Yue Miao the Five Pagoda Temple and the Bell Tower again assembled to attract tourists and also as a means of solving the problem faced by local authorities of what to do with them The long wordy and detailed inscriptions on these steles are almost impossible to read for most are lightly engraved on white marble in characters only an inch or so in size thus being difficult to see since the slabs are often 3m or more tall There are more than 100 000 surviving stone inscriptions in China However only approximately 30 000 have been transcribed or had rubbings made and fewer than those 30 000 have been formally studied 21 Stela 51 from Calakmul dating to 731 is the best preserved monument from the city It depicts the king Yuknoom Took K awiil 24 Stela H a high relief in the round sculpture from Copan in Honduras Maya stelae Edit Main article Maya stelae Maya stelae were fashioned by the Maya civilization of ancient Mesoamerica They consist of tall sculpted stone shafts or slabs and are often associated with low circular stones referred to as altars although their actual function is uncertain 25 Many stelae were sculpted in low relief 26 although plain monuments are found throughout the Maya region 27 The sculpting of these monuments spread throughout the Maya area during the Classic Period 250 900 AD 25 and these pairings of sculpted stelae and circular altars are considered a hallmark of Classic Maya civilization 28 The earliest dated stela to have been found in situ in the Maya lowlands was recovered from the great city of Tikal in Guatemala During the Classic Period almost every Maya kingdom in the southern lowlands raised stelae in its ceremonial centre 27 Stelae became closely associated with the concept of divine kingship and declined at the same time as this institution The production of stelae by the Maya had its origin around 400 BC and continued through to the end of the Classic Period around 900 although some monuments were reused in the Postclassic c 900 1521 The major city of Calakmul in Mexico raised the greatest number of stelae known from any Maya city at least 166 although they are very poorly preserved Hundreds of stelae have been recorded in the Maya region 29 displaying a wide stylistic variation 27 Many are upright slabs of limestone sculpted on one or more faces 27 with available surfaces sculpted with figures carved in relief and with hieroglyphic text Stelae in a few sites display a much more three dimensional appearance where locally available stone permits such as at Copan and Tonina 27 Plain stelae do not appear to have been painted nor overlaid with stucco decoration 30 but most Maya stelae were probably brightly painted in red yellow black blue and other colours 31 Ireland Edit Ogham stone in Ratass Church Ireland Ogham stones are vertical grave and boundary markers erected at hundreds of sites in Ireland throughout the first millennium AD bearing inscriptions in the Primitive Irish language They have occasionally been described as steles 32 33 34 Horn of Africa Edit A sword symbol on a stele at Tiya The Horn of Africa contains many stelae In the highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea the Axumites erected a number of large stelae which served a religious purpose in pre Christian times One of these granite columns is the largest such structure in the world standing at 90 feet 35 Additionally Tiya is one of nine megalithic pillar sites in the central Gurage Zone of Ethiopia As of 1997 118 stele were reported in the area Along with the stelae in the Hadiya Zone the structures are identified by local residents as Yegragn Dingay or Gran s stone in reference to Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al Ghazi Ahmad Gurey or Gran ruler of the Adal Sultanate 36 The stelae at Tiya and other areas in central Ethiopia are similar to those on the route between Djibouti City and Loyada in Djibouti In the latter area there are a number of anthropomorphic and phallic stelae which are associated with graves of rectangular shape flanked by vertical slabs The Djibouti Loyada stelae are of uncertain age and some of them are adorned with a T shaped symbol 37 Near the ancient northwestern town of Amud in Somalia whenever an old site had the prefix Aw in its name such as the ruins of Awbare and Awbube 38 it denoted the final resting place of a local saint 39 Surveys by A T Curle in 1934 on several of these important ruined cities recovered various artefacts such as pottery and coins which point to a medieval period of activity at the tail end of the Adal Sultanate s reign 38 Among these settlements Aw Barkhadle is surrounded by a number of ancient stelae 40 Burial sites near Burao likewise feature old stelae 41 Notable steles Edit King Ezana s stele at Aksum A victory stele of Naram Sin a 23rd century BC Mesopotamian king Stele of Vespasian Code of Hammurabi Gwanggaeto Stele King Ezana s Stela Kul Tigin Lemnos stela Lapis Niger Mesha Stele Naram Sin Nestorian Stele Pig stele of Edessa Stone of Terpon The Doctorate steles at the Temple of Literature Hanoi The Ram Khamhaeng stele Ukrainian stone stelae In Africa Merneptah Stele Rosetta Stone Boundary Stelae of Akhenaten Palermo stone Stele of Ankh ef en Khonsu The Opa Oranmiyan Gao Saney Burao steles Stone of the Guanches In the Western Hemisphere Mexico Tres Zapotes Stela C Izapa Stela 5 La Mojarra Stela 1 Guatemala Stela 14 from Piedras Negras Honduras Stela H from Copan Peru Raimondi StelaGallery EditThis section contains an unencyclopedic or excessive gallery of images Please help improve the section by removing excessive or indiscriminate images or by moving relevant images beside adjacent text in accordance with the Manual of Style on use of images October 2018 Learn how and when to remove this template message Princess Nefertiabet s funerary slab stele c 2575 BC from Egypt s 4th dynasty Egyptian grave stela of Nehemes Ra tawy c 760 656 BC Stele 25 c 2500 BC from the Petit Chasseur in Sion Switzerland A neolithic Sardinian menhir c 2500 BC recovered at Laconi and assigned to the Abealzu Filigosa culture The lunette of the Code of Hammurabi c 1750 BC depicting the king receiving his law from the sun god Shamash Baal with Thunderbolt c 14th century BC an Ugaritic stele from Syria The Merneptah Stele c 1200 BC engraved on the back of a reused stele of Amenhotep III s with the earliest mention of the name Israel An unusually well preserved Greek herm c 520 BC used as a boundary marker and to ward off evil A votive stela honoring the Thracian goddess Bendis c 400 BC carved at Athens A herm of Demosthenes a c 1520 recreation of the c 280 BC original located in the Athenian market The Rosetta Stone 196 BC establishing the divine cult of Ptolemy V A Buddhist Stele from China Northern Wei period built sometime after 583 A rubbing of the Yamanoue Stele 681 in Takasaki one of three protected steles in Japan Stele 35 from Yaxchilan 8th century depicting Lady Eveningstar the consort of king Shield Jaguar II The Nestorian Stele 781 records the success of the missionary Alopen in Tang China in Chinese and Syriac It is borne by a Bixi and forbidden to travel abroad Rodney s Stone a slab cross from Early Medieval Scotland Sueno s Stone c 9th century in Forres Scotland displaying efforts at modern preservation of the Pictish stones A rubbing of the Stele of Sulaiman Prince of Xining 1348 bearing the Mani in six languages Nepali Tibetan Uyghur Phags pa Tangut and Chinese The Galle stele left by Zheng He on Sri Lanka in 1409 with trilingual inscriptions in Chinese Tamil and Persian Tombstones funerary stelae at the Common Burying Ground and Island Cemetery Newport Rhode Island Typical inscriptions include the names of the deceased interred under the stones Ca 18th century and later A disc shaped gravestone or hilarri in Bidarray western Pyrenees Basque Country featuring typical geometric and solar forms as it was the custom since the period previous to Roman timesSee also Edit Asia portal Wikimedia Commons has media related to Steles Cantabrian stelae Headstone Kurgan stelae Monumental inscription Runestone Stecci Stele of the VulturesNotes Edit Anglicized plural steles ˈ s t iː l iː z STEE leez Greek plural stelai ˈ s t iː l aɪ STEE lye from Greek sthlh stele The Greek plural is written sthlai stelai but this is only rarely encountered in English References Edit Commons Category Battle of Waterloo steles Timmermans D 7 March 2012 Waterloo Campaign The British monuments Collon Memoirs By Egypt Exploration Society Archaeological Survey of Egypt 1908 p 19 e g Piye s victory stela M Lichtheim Ancient Egyptian Literature Vol 3 The University of California Press 1980 pp 66ff or Shalmaneser s stela at Saluria Boardman op cit p 335 Pool op cit p 265 Pool op cit p 277 Till 2005 168 a b c d e Strudwick Helen 2006 The Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt New York Sterling Publishing Co Inc pp 214 223 ISBN 978 1 4351 4654 9 Dunn Jimmy The Stelae of Ancient Egypt Tour Egypt Retrieved 8 July 2014 a b Allen Thomas George 1936 Egyptian Stelae in Field Museum of Natural History Biodiversity Heritage Library Retrieved May 4 2020 a b G Azarpay Urartian Art and Artifacts 1968 p32 C Maranci Vigilant Powers Three Churches of Early Medieval Armenia 2015 p177 182 C Maranci Vigilant Powers Three Churches of Early Medieval Armenia 2015 footnote 311 on page 198 Caskey L D An Archaic Greek Grave Stele in Boston American Journal of Archaeology 15 3 1911 293 CrossRef Web Robinson Edward An Archaic Greek Grave Monument The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 8 5 1913 94 CrossRef Web Campbell Gordon The Grove Encyclopedia of Classical Art and Architecture Oxford New York Oxford University Press 2007 Print Grossman Janet Burnett Greek Funerary Sculpture Catalogue of the Collections at the Getty Villa Los Angeles JPaul Getty Museum 2001 Print Endymion Wilkinson Chinese History A Manual Cambridge Massachusetts Harvard Yenching Institute 2000 436 Wilkinson 2000 436 437 The Stele of Mount Hua Temple at The West Alp Vincent s Calligraphy Retrieved 2017 05 16 a b c Wilkinson 2000 437 de Groot Jan Jakob Maria 1892 The Religious System of China II Brill Archive pp 451 452 a b Wilkinson 2000 438 Martin amp Grube 2000 p 113 sfn error no target CITEREFMartinGrube2000 help a b Miller 1999 p 9 Fuente et al 1999 p 187 sfn error no target CITEREFFuente et al 1999 help a b c d e Stuart 1996 p 149 Sharer amp Traxler 2006 p 235 Stewart 2009 p 8 Stuart 1996 p 158 Sharer amp Traxler 2006 p 183 Goudsward David 5 May 2014 Ancient Stone Sites of New England and the Debate Over Early European Exploration McFarland ISBN 9781476604862 via Google Books elisabetta connemara irish www connemara irish Menninger Karl 10 April 2013 Number Words and Number Symbols A Cultural History of Numbers Courier Corporation ISBN 9780486319773 via Google Books Brockman Norbert 2011 Encyclopedia of Sacred Places Volume 1 ABC CLIO p 30 ISBN 978 1598846546 Fukui Katsuyoshi 1997 Ethiopia in broader perspective papers of the XIIIth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies Kyoto 12 17 December 1997 Shokado Book Sellers p 370 ISBN 4879749761 Retrieved 23 December 2014 Fattovich Rodolfo 1987 Some remarks on the origins of the Aksumite Stelae PDF Annales d Ethiopie 14 14 43 69 doi 10 3406 ethio 1987 931 Archived from the original PDF on 2015 09 24 Retrieved 7 September 2014 a b Lewis I M 1998 Saints and Somalis Popular Islam in a Clan based Society The Red Sea Press p 90 ISBN 978 1 56902 103 3 G W B Huntingford The Town of Amud Somalia Azania 13 1978 p 184 Briggs Phillip 2012 Somaliland Bradt Travel Guides p 98 ISBN 978 1 84162 371 9 National Museums Somali Heritage and Archaeology Retrieved 13 October 2013 Bibliography EditBoardman John ed The Cambridge Ancient History Part 1 2nd Edition ISBN 978 0 521 22496 3 Collon Dominique et al Stele Grove Art Online Oxford Art Online Oxford University Press Web 3 Jun 2015 Subscription required Miller Mary 1999 Maya Art and Architecture London UK and New York USA Thames amp Hudson ISBN 0 500 20327 X OCLC 41659173 Pool Christopher A Olmec Archaeology and Early Mesoamerica Cambridge University Press 2007 ISBN 978 0 521 78312 5 Sharer Robert J Loa P Traxler 2006 The Ancient Maya 6th ed Stanford California USA Stanford University Press ISBN 0 8047 4817 9 OCLC 57577446 Stewart Daniel Moroni 2009 Parentage Statements and Paired Stelae Signs of Dynastic Succession for the Classic Maya PDF Theses and Dissertations Provo Utah USA Brigham Young University Retrieved 2016 02 09 Stuart David Spring Autumn 1996 Kings of Stone A Consideration of Stelae in Ancient Maya Ritual and Representation RES Anthropology and Aesthetics Cambridge Massachusetts USA President and Fellows of Harvard College acting through the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology 29 30 29 30 The Pre Columbian 148 171 doi 10 1086 RESvn1ms20166947 JSTOR 20166947 S2CID 193661049 Till Karen E The New Berlin Memory Politics Place University of Minnesota Press 2005 Wilkinson Endymion 2000 Chinese History A Manual 2nd ed Cambridge Massachusetts Harvard Yenching Institute ISBN 0 674 00249 0 External links EditThe Cesnola collection of Cypriot art stone sculpture a fully digitized collection catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries which contains material on steles Egyptian Stelae in Field Museum of Natural History documentation of collection 1936 Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Stele amp oldid 1051423137, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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