(The MIT Press) Obelisks — giant standing stones, invented in Ancient Egypt as sacred objects — serve no practical purpose. Yet nearly 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. This book traces the fate and many meanings of obelisks across nearly 40 centuries — what they meant to the Egyptians, and how other cultures have borrowed, interpreted, understood, and misunderstood them through the years. Brian A. Curran is an associate professor of art history at Pennsylvania State University. Anthony Grafton is the Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University. Pamela O. Long is an independent historian. Benjamin Weiss is manager of Adult Learning Resources at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.