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stela
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: stele; pl. stelae
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An upright, freestanding stone monument, often inscribed or carved in relief, and sometimes painted. These pillars or tablets of stone were often used to mark a grave or erected as a monument. Inscriptions may commemorate a victory or a major event, or proclaim a formal decree. Stelae are frequently encountered in Maya and Olmec sites of Mesoamerica (often carved with calendrical and hieroglyphic inscriptions), in the Buddhist civilizations of Asia, and in early Greece. The earliest funerary stelae are from a cemetery of 1st- and 2nd-Dynasty kings at Abydos, and are located in publicly accessible superstructures of the tombs. Commemorative stelae were erected in temples. Votive stelae recorded an individual's veneration of a particular deity(ies).
stela cult
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The widespread use of inscribed upright stone monuments, one of the most prominent and unique Maya Great Tradition markers.

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