Standing stone tablet used in the ancient world primarily as a grave marker but also for dedication, commemoration, and demarcation. Though the stele's origin is unknown, a stone slab was commonly used as a tombstone in Egypt, Greece, Asia, and the Mayan empire. In Babylon, the Code of Hammurabi was engraved on a tall stele. The largest number of stelae were produced in Attica, chiefly as grave markers. The dead were represented on the stelae as they were in life: men as warriors or athletes, women surrounded by their children, and children with their pets or toys.

Variants of STELE

stele or stela

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on stele, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up stele? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.