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Stele

Stele

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Image:Forres sueno.jpg
Sueno's Stone in Forres Scotland

A stele (from Greek: στήλη, stēlē, Template:IPA2; plural: stelae, στῆλαι, stēlai, Template:IPA2; also found: Latinised singular stela and Anglicised plural steles) is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerary or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living—inscribed, carved in relief (bas-relief, sunken-relief, high-relief, etc), or painted onto the slab.

Stelae were also used as territorial markers, as the boundary stelae of Akhenaton at Amarna, or to commemorate military victories. They were widely used in the Ancient Near East, Greece, Egypt, Ethiopia, and, quite independently, in China and some Buddhist cultures (see the Nestorian Stele), and, more surely independently, by Mesoamerican civilisations, notably the Olmec and Maya. The huge number of stelae surviving from ancient Egypt and in Central America constitute one of the largest and most significant sources of information on those civilisations. An informative stele of Tiglath-Pileser III is preserved in the British Museum. Two stelae built into the walls of a church are major documents relating to the Etruscan language.

Unfinished standing stones, set up without inscriptions from Libya in North Africa to Scotland were monuments of pre-literate Megalithic cultures in the Late Stone Age.

In 1489, 1512, and 1663 CE, the Kaifeng Jews of China left these stone monuments to preserve their origin and history. Despite repeated flooding of the Yellow River, destroying their synagogue time and time again, these stelae survived to tell their tale.

An obelisk is a specialized kind of stele. The High crosses of Ireland, Scotland and Wales i.e. Celtic areas of Britain are specialized stelae. A modern gravestone with its inscribed epitaph is also a kind of stele.

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 stelae. The memorial is meant to be read not only as the field, but also as an erasure of datum that refers to memory of the Holocaust.

Image:Thkil1.jpg
Kildalton Cross AD 800 Islay, Scotland.

Notable individual stelae

See also

Template:Commons

Image:Buddhist Stela Northern Wei period.jpg
A Buddhist Stele from China, Northern Wei period, built in the early 6th century.
bg:Стела

cs:Stéla da:Stele de:Stele ja:石碑 nl:Stele pl:Stela pt:Estela (monumento) th:ศิลาจารึก

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