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    Obelisk: A History (Burndy Library Publications) (Paperback) By (author) Brian A. Curran, By (author) Anthony Grafton, By (author) Pamela O. Long, By (author) Benjamin Weiß

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    DescriptionNearly every empire worthy of the name--from ancient Rome to the United States--has sought an Egyptian obelisk to place in the center of a ceremonial space. Obelisks--giant standing stones, invented in Ancient Egypt as sacred objects--serve no practical purpose. For much of their history their inscriptions, in Egyptian hieroglyphics, were completely inscrutable. Yet over the centuries dozens of obelisks have made the voyage from Egypt to Rome, Constantinople, and Florence; to Paris, London, and New York. New obelisks and even obelisk-shaped buildings rose as well--the Washington Monument being a noted example. Obelisks, everyone seems to sense, connote some very special sort of power. This beautifully illustrated book traces the fate and many meanings of obelisks across nearly forty centuries--what they meant to the Egyptians, and how other cultures have borrowed, interpreted, understood, and misunderstood them through the years. In each culture obelisks have taken on new meanings and associations. To the Egyptians, the obelisk was the symbol of a pharaoh's right to rule and connection to the divine. In ancient Rome, obelisks were the embodiment of Rome's coming of age as an empire. To nineteenth-century New Yorkers, the obelisk in Central Park stood for their country's rejection of the trappings of empire just as it was itself beginning to acquire imperial power. And to a twentieth-century reader of Freud, the obelisk had anatomical and psychological connotations. The history of obelisks is a story of technical achievement, imperial conquest, Christian piety and triumphalism, egotism, scholarly brilliance, political hubris, bigoted nationalism, democratic self-assurance, Modernist austerity, and Hollywood kitsch--in short, the story of Western civilization.

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  • Full bibliographic data for Obelisk

    A History
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Brian A. Curran, By (author) Anthony Grafton, By (author) Pamela O. Long, By (author) Benjamin Weiß
    Physical properties
    Format: Paperback
    Number of pages: 384
    Width: 188 mm
    Height: 236 mm
    Thickness: 33 mm
    Weight: 998 g
    ISBN 13: 9780262512701
    ISBN 10: 026251270X

    Warengruppen-Systematik des deutschen Buchhandels: 25830
    B&T Book Type: NF
    BIC E4L: ARC
    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: T1.5
    B&T Modifier: Region of Publication: 01
    B&T Modifier: Academic Level: 05
    B&T Modifier: Subject Development: 01
    BIC subject category V2: AMGD
    B&T General Subject: 431
    Ingram Theme: CHRN/ANCIEN
    Ingram Subject Code: AT
    Libri: I-AT
    B&T Merchandise Category: UP
    B&T Approval Code: A14202020
    BISAC V2.8: HIS002000, ART015110, ART026000, ART015060
    B&T Approval Code: A22880000
    DC22: 731/.76
    LC classification: DT62.O2 O53 2009
    LC subject heading:
    DC22: 731.76
    LC subject heading:
    Thema V1.0: AMG, AFK
    Thema time period qualifier V1.0: 3C
    Illustrations note
    131 figures
    MIT Press Ltd
    Imprint name
    MIT Press
    Publication date
    30 April 2009
    Publication City/Country
    Cambridge, Mass.
    Author Information
    Brian A. Curran is Associate Professor of Art History at the Pennsylvania State University. Anthony Grafton is Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University. Pamela O. Long is an independent historian who has published widely in medieval and Renaissance history of science and technology. Benjamin Weiss is Manager of Adult Learning Resources at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
    Review quote
    "A fascinating account of the way a bizarre Egyptian luxury object became an essential symbol (of many and shifting meanings) for a bewildering variety of places, religions, cultures, and governmental systems, from the Rome of the Caesars to the Washington Mall. An erudite and witty tour by four expert guides, with illustrations as delightful as the story they have to tell, a story that leaves obelisks, like all great enigmas, with their aura of mystery intact."-- Ingrid D. Rowland, University of Notre Dame and author of Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic