What Was the Obelisk a Symbol for During Ancient Times?

The obelisk is a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument that has been used as a symbol for various purposes throughout ancient times. These structures were popular in ancient Egypt and were later adopted by the Romans as well.

The obelisk has been used to represent different things such as religious beliefs, political power, and architecture. In this article, we will explore the different meanings and symbolism of the obelisk during ancient times.

The Obelisk in Ancient Egypt

The obelisk was first introduced in ancient Egypt during the fourth dynasty. The Egyptians used obelisks as part of their religious practices and believed that they represented the sun god Ra. The word “obelisk” comes from the Greek word “obeliskos,” which means “little spit.”

The Egyptians often erected pairs of obelisks in front of temples or other important buildings. These structures were made from a single piece of stone and could be over 100 feet tall. They were often covered in hieroglyphics that told stories about Egyptian mythology or praised the pharaoh who had them built.

Symbolism of the Obelisk

The obelisk was seen as a symbol of stability and power during ancient times. It represented the pharaoh’s connection to the gods and their ability to maintain order in society. The Egyptians also believed that obelisks had protective powers and could ward off evil spirits.

In addition to their religious significance, obelisks also served an architectural purpose in ancient Egypt. They were often placed at the entrance of temples or other important buildings to create a sense of grandeur and importance.

The Obelisk in Ancient Rome

After conquering Egypt, the Romans became fascinated with its culture and adopted many Egyptian customs, including their use of obelisks. The Romans saw these structures as symbols of power and conquest.

One of the most famous obelisks in Rome is the Obelisk of Axum, which was brought to Rome by Emperor Constantius II in 357 AD. It was placed in the Circus Maximus and later moved to its current location in front of the Lateran Palace.

In ancient Rome, obelisks were seen as symbols of power and conquest. They were often placed in public spaces such as forums and squares to remind the people of the power and might of the Roman Empire.

The Romans also used obelisks as a way to show off their engineering skills. Many of these structures were transported from Egypt to Rome and required significant effort and skill to move and erect.


The obelisk has been used as a symbol for various things throughout ancient times. In ancient Egypt, it represented religious beliefs, political power, and architecture. The Romans saw it as a symbol of conquest and engineering prowess.

Today, many obelisks still stand throughout the world, serving as reminders of our ancient past and the significance that these structures held for our ancestors.