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© 2006 Bernard I. Pietsch and Suzanne Thompson

Icon by Design

**To the public eye, the towering blocks of masonry of the
**

Washington Monument commemorate our first President and the

aspirations of the republic. But to an inner eye, the colossal

obelisk conceals an invisible–and some might say sacred, realm

of value and meaning. Though not hidden from view, this higher

aspect of the monument’s design expresses itself indirectly and by

implication. It is not discerned by logic alone--one must be

educated to its perception.

To fully enter the mystery of the Washington Monument, it is

necessary to go beyond that which we see and attempt to

apprehend its subtle and sublime intended form. By

deconstructing the form, we will better understand the monument

itself, and also the ancient canonical ideal which inspired the work.

How do you read?

In order to “read” the invisible aspects of the monument, we will

apply the same analytical methods I have used to decipher

ancient works of art and architecture around the world. The first

step in the process is to define the dimensions of the visible form.

This includes all the lengths, angles, areas, surfaces, and volumes

of the existing structure. These attributes are the vocabulary of the

language used to encode/decode its meaning.

For the Washington Monument there are three geometric

components: a slightly tapering tower or shaft, a truncated four

sided pyramid atop the shaft called the pyramidion, and a smaller

pyramid sitting atop the pyramidion called the capstone. The

physical details of these features are listed in Appendix A. Both

dimensions from the U.S. Park Service and those I adopt as

intended are given.

Actual and Intended: A note on accuracy

It is apparent from Appendix A, that some of the measures I use

depart slightly from the official dimensions suggested by the Park

Service. Because no measuring of the physical world can ever be

completely accurate and because perfection in the physical world

can only be approximated, the reader is asked to tolerate a margin

of inexactitude. For the purposes of reading a monument, the

virtue of any single measure is determined by the extent to which

it accords with the overriding harmonics of the work. By making

minor adjustments to the figures, the artful statement of a work

becomes visible, and its metaphors surface. Consequently, we

Washington Monument

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <bernard@sonic.net>

Page 2 of 17

**have adopted those values concluded as intended by the
**

architect. For example, the adopted measure of 555.555 feet for

the monument’s intended height is more congruous with the

overall scheme of the structure than the published figure of

555.427 feet--a difference of only 1.54266 inches. We submit that

the profit gained by this approach outweighs any supposed error

in metric accuracy.

The second part of the deciphering process involves identifying

the underlying harmonies of the structure.

Some

correspondences are direct, others inferential. But it is in the

inferential realm where the characteristics that distinguish ordinary

from iconic, and sacred from mundane, reveal themselves. How

the Washington Monument fulfills the following ten elements of

iconic architecture proves this form to be among the world’s most

extraordinary structures.

The reader is invited to participate in our process of investigation.

Just as literature utilizes metaphor to convey inferential meaning,

we will similarly use the languages of number, geometry and

measure to articulate the deeper levels of the Washington

Monument’s design and give voice to its otherwise mute stones.

Through discovery, that which was invisible will become, by

demonstration, self-evident.

I.

Elements of Iconic Architecture

**The design is generated from a singular idea.
**

Those architectural achievements most worthy of note are

generated from a singular principle that pervades and unifies the

structure. As I have found in my work on ancient monuments, this

is especially true in the case of the Egyptian obelisk, after which

the Washington Monument is modeled. For the Washington

Monument, that singular notion is the number 10 – a number used

in many traditions to represent “unnamable perfection.” The

following is a partial listing of the ways in which the number 10

manifests itself in the structure of the Washington Monument.

1. The entire monument is 10 times the height of its pyramidion.

2. The height is 10 times the length of one base side of the

monument.

3. The number 10 generates the volume of the perfect

pyramidion:

**The volume of the pyramidion in cubic feet is the same
**

number as the anti-natural logarithm of 10.

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <bernard@sonic.net>

Page 3 of 17

**The volume of the pyramidion: 22026.46579 cubic feet.
**

The anti-natural log of 10:

22026.46579

**4. The number designating the cubic volume of the capstone,
**

94.25959089,1 is very nearly 10 times the number designating

the length of the apothem (plane face) of the capstone,

9.423579201 inches.

The shape of the Washington Monument entreats the observer to

look beyond its exterior, where the truly sublime elements of the

obelisk’s geometry lie. The identification of this geometry, which is

external to the structure, requires the active participation of the

observer--the monument’s visible form must be projected to its

geometric conclusion. In this example, we consider how the

apothem or face angle of the pyramidion (Fig.1) relates to the

whole obelisk, and how again the number 10 by extension is an

integral part of its design.

5. When the axis of the face plane of the pyramidion is projected

to the ground (Fig. 2), it strikes the earth 172.4 feet from the

center of the obelisk at its base level. 2

Fig. 1

Apothem Angle

**172.4 is 10 times the number of the decimal angle of the
**

pyramidion’s face, 17.2 4 degrees. 2

Fig. 2 Apothem

angle projected to

base level.

**Observation: At a height of 555.555 feet, only a face angle of
**

17.24 degrees could generate this convergence.

6. When the corner edge or arris angle of the pyramidion (Fig. 3)

is likewise projected to the base plane of the monument, it

converges with the ground at a point 243.8 feet from the center

of the obelisk (Fig. 4). See that the length of the hypotenuse

projected along the arris angle from the top of the pyramidion

to the ground is 606.72 feet3.

Observation: 606.72 feet is 10 times the length of the arris corner

of the pyramidion, 60.67 feet.

Fig. 3

Arris edge of

Pyramidion 60.67'

Fig. 4

Arris angle

extended to base.

1

**94.25959091 (the reciprocal of .010609) X 3 = 282.7787727
**

282.77877279 = 31.41986363, which by 10 = canon . The of 31.419 is 5.605342419, read as

inches is the length of one base side of the capstone. To find the angle, divide the length of the

base by 2 = 2.80267121.Then divide half the base by the height, 9” to get .311407912, the tangent

of 17.29700181degrees. The cosine of 17.297 degrees is .994776359. Divide the height, 9” by the

cosine of 17.297 = 9.426291206, the length of apothem in inches.(Slight departures in the decimal

places occur due to the indeterminate height of the capstone and the use of canon .)

2

3

**17.2439725 degrees
**

606.7235226 feet

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

II.

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <bernard@sonic.net>

Page 4 of 17

**The smallest component informs the whole: Capstone as initiator.
**

Herodotus, the early Greek historian, writes that he was told by

temple priests that the Great Pyramid was “built from the top

down.” This is veiled language for the notion that the design of the

Great Pyramid is driven by the geometry of its top portion.

(Alternately stated: the last detail reiterates the first.) Likewise, in

the Washington Monument, it is the 9” capstone – the topmost

and smallest component of the monument -- which similarly

illuminates the monument. The capstone is both the geometric

conclusion of the monument’s form and also the “seed” from

which the rest of the monument is generated.

**Laying of Capstone Ceremony
**

December 6, 1884

**The capstone has a square base, a height, an apex angle and a
**

weight. With even the slightest adjustment of any one of these

attributes, the obelisk projected from the capstone would be

altered. By selecting a perfect height of 9” and a base area of

31.41 square inches, an angle of 17.24 is assured.

7. The ratio between volume of capstone and the volume of the

pyramidian can be closely derived from the capstone:

**The capstone, a 9 inch pyramidal form with a base side
**

length of 5.605342419 inches has a volume of

94.25959091 cubic inches.

**The pyramidion (including capstone) is 666.6666 inches
**

high with a base side length of 413.8572194 inches and

volume of 38,061,732.89 cubic inches.

**The ratio between volume of pyramidion and capstone is:
**

38,061,732.89 cubic inches in pyramidion

94.25959091 cubic inches in capstone

Capstone Replica

**Formula for finding the
**

volume of a pyramid:

2

(Height x Base )

3

= 403,796.9242

**Observation: If the number of inches in the base side length
**

of the capstone (5.605342419), is used as a common

logarithm--we derive, with a small departure, the same

number as the ratio between the two volumes:

5.60534241910 = 403,034.6813

**The common log of the actual ratio number of the two volumes,
**

403,796.9242, would render a side length of the capstone at

5.606163007”, a difference of only .00999853627 from the

mathematically determined figure above.

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <bernard@sonic.net>

Page 5 of 17

**The alchemy of the capstone
**

We know that the capstone was fashioned of aluminum – an

unusual choice of material, as in its time it was a rare metal and

difficult to manufacture. Beyond its value and utility in protecting

the tip of the pyramidion from lightning, there are non-linear

correspondences which intimate an integral relationship between

the capstone's geometry and its aluminum complement. For

example:

8. The number of pounds in one cubic foot of aluminum can be

extracted from the dimensions of capstone:

Setting Capstone

**Divide the length of the side of the capstone’s base by 2:
**

5.605342 = 2.802671209

2

**Find the anti-natural log,
**

by 10 to find:

e

of 2.802671209 and multiply

e

2.802671209 = 16.48863259

16.48863259 x 10 = 164.8863259 is also the number of pounds in

one cubic foot of aluminum.

Divide the number of pounds per cubic foot of aluminum by the

number of cubic inches in one cubic foot (1728):

164.8863259 ÷ 1728 = .095420362 lbs/cubic inch of aluminum

The aluminum capstone is reported to weigh 100 ounces. But

given that the weight of aluminum is 164.8863259 lbs. per cubic

foot, or 1.5267253 ounces per cubic inch -- the weight of a

94.25959091 cubic inch aluminum pyramidal form ought rightly to

weigh 144 ounces. Based upon its reported weight of 100 ounces,

we must assume that the capstone is hollow or perhaps designed

with an aperture for affixing it to the top of the pyramidion. This

missing 44 ounces however, is not inconsequential; and as shown

below, the missing aluminum portends alchemy invoking the

highest levels of intuition.

9. One method for deriving the cubic volume of the missing mass

of the capstone uses the reciprocal of the number of times one

cubic foot of aluminum can be divided by 44 ounces. To find

the number of missing cubic inches see that:

Aluminum

**1 Cubic Inch = .095420362 lbs.
**

1 Cubic Inch =

1.5267253 oz.

1 Cubic Foot = 164.8863259 lbs.

1 Cubic Foot = 2,638.181241oz.

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <bernard@sonic.net>

Page 6 of 17

**In one cubic foot there are 2,638.181241 ounces of aluminum.
**

44 ounces of aluminum, divides into one cubic foot 59.5866396 times.

1

x 1728 = 28.81985498 cubic inches

59.5866396

28.81985498 cubic inches of aluminum weighs 44 ounces.

By this method the difference in the volumes of a capstone

weighing 144 ounces and one weighing 100 ounces is

28.81985498 cubic inches of aluminum.

Aluminum to Gold

Gold as a standard of value, is referenced in many ancient works.

In several monuments and artifacts we have observed

synchronistic crossovers between the volume of an object itself

and the weight of that volume if it were transformed to gold.

Although aluminum and not gold was used in the Washington

Monument’s capstone, the capstone nonetheless

obliquely

references gold in a remarkably synchronistic way.

**See that: 100 ounces of aluminum, as reported, has a
**

volume of 65.45804925 cubic inches and that,

**144 ounces of aluminum, as derived, would have a volume
**

of 94.25959091 cubic inches.

**Notice that the weight of 94.25959091 cubic inches of gold
**

would be 65.45804925 pounds troy -- the same number as

the number of cubic inches of aluminum in a 100 ounce

capstone.

**The base side length of the
**

shaft + the base side length

of the pyramidion, divided

by 2 = the mean width of

the shaft.

**10. Another referent to gold is indicated by the length of the mean
**

width of the shaft of the monument. Here the number of grams 55.06616449’ base side length

in one cubic foot of gold is designated. Although the +34.48680907’ pyramidion side

correspondence is not exact, we are reminded that the object 89.55297356’

itself is an artful statement—its ability to indicate many different

89.55297356’ =

levels at once is to be appreciated.

2

**The mean width, 44.77648678‘, multiplied by 10,000 44.77648678‘ mean shaft width.
**

renders 447,771.3305, very nearly (.998613) the number

of grams in one cubic foot of gold.

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <bernard@sonic.net>

Page 7 of 17

**Divide the mean width of the shaft by 1200, the number of
**

pounds in one cubic foot of gold:

447,771.3305 gr

1200 lbs

= 373.1427754 grams per pound

373.1427754

= 31.09523129 grams to one ounce troy gold

12 oz./troy lb.

**(The actual exact number of grams in one cubic foot of gold is
**

447,833.4407--approximately 62.11 grams per cubic foot

departure from that derived from the mean width of the shaft.)

III.

**Design elements are self-reinforcing and redundant.
**

In the best-crafted monuments, every detail holographically or

holistically supports and enlightens the whole: design, measure,

and material are congruous with the concept. Such mutual

relatedness results in redundancies in the underlying

relationships, which manifest as repeating geometric patterning or

reiterated numeric values. These redundancies reinforce and

recapitulate the intention of the overarching design. Some of these

redundancies have been noted above, particularly in the section

on the singular idea of the monument. But I suspected the

existence of other redundant indicators in the Washington

Monument, and in fact discovered several meaningful instances in

the course of my work.

**Fig. 6 Apothem angle
**

projected to ground as

radius.

**11. Observation: The perimeter of the shaft’s base restates the
**

volume of the pyramidion.

There are 220.26 feet in the perimeter of the base of the

obelisk’s shaft.

This number, times one hundred

approximates the number of cubic feet in the pyramidion:

22,026.46579 cubic feet

12. Return to demonstration Number 5, where the line along the

apothem or face angle of the pyramidion is projected to the

ground. (Fig. 6) This line would strike the base plane

172.4405081 feet from the center of the monument. Let this

point of intersection create the radius of a circle. The area of

this circle A, 93,429.25446 square feet, is nearly equal to the

surface area of the entire obelisk. (Fig. 7)

Fig. 7

Surface Area

**13. The Area of B (Fig. 8) created by extending the line of the arris
**

angle of the pyramidion to the base plane of the obelisk is

186,858 square feet – approximately double Area A and

double the number of square feet in the surface area of the

entire obelisk. (Fig.7)

Fig. 8 Arris angle projected to

ground as a radius of outer

circle B.

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <bernard@sonic.net>

Page 8 of 17

**14. Observation: The ratio of the circumference of circle A
**

(1083.61145’) to the circumference of Circle B (1532.458008’)

is also the same number as the cosine of 45 degrees:

.7071067816.

1083.611450

1532.458008

IV.

A

B

= .7071067816

Iconic architecture may reference its location.

Cosine 45

.7071067816

**Ancient monumental work I have investigated, especially obelisks,
**

often shows itself to be geodetically site specific, operating as a

marker on the earth. The Washington Monument announces its

own latitude in at least two different ways; and as we will see

below the evidence suggests that its longitudinal positioning may

have been consciously selected as well.

From my own measurements I determined that the sides of the

monument are actually slightly skewed--the base is not exactly

square. Though slight, the difference in the two major diagonal

angles is an important geometric signifier.

15. Observation: The length of the Southeast/Northwest diagonal

of the monument’s base indicates the geographic latitude of

the site. The diagonal of the base of the Washington

Monument in feet, divided by 100 and taken as the cosine of

an angle, derives almost exactly the latitude of the site.

**The South East to North West diagonal measure of the
**

base of the obelisk is approximately 77.836 feet.

.77836 is the cosine of the angle 38º 53' 21"

77.836 feet ÷ 100 = .77836

which is the latitude of the site of the Monument.

**This observation is confirmed and reinforced by another method of
**

identifying latitude from the form of the obelisk as in the following:

16. The latitude of the site of the Washington Monument can also

be derived from the capstone’s apothem length.

4

**The length of the capstone’s apothem face length, 9.426
**

inches, approximates the number of degrees of precession

of a Foucault pendulum on the latitude of the monument4.

**The formula for deriving the precession of a Foucault pendulum is: 15º x sine of the latitude =
**

degrees precession per hour. The actual latitude of the WM is 38.88948º (TerraServe Web Map

Service), the sine of the latitude would be .6278190681 x 15º = 9.417286022º precession per hour.

Fig 9. Latitude of

Washington Monument

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <bernard@sonic.net>

Page 9 of 17

**The precise height of the capstone is properly indeterminate
**

because of the absence of an apex. If the capstone were taken to

be exactly 8.99465 inches in height, (a difference of .00535

inches,) the degrees precession derived from the apothem’s

length, 9.417 inches activated as a pendulum5, would indicate

the monument’s actual latitude of 38 53’ 21”.

V.

Iconic architecture references universal constants

**Fig. 10 Photo of replica
**

from Smithsonian

Institution.

**In many instances, great architecture commemorates and
**

encodes the great constants of the universe, both mathematical

and physical. The Washington Monument participates in this

respect through its referent to the constant Pi.

17. Observation: The area of the base of the capstone is

10 x

or 31.41 square inches6

**18. The shaft of the Washington Monument is actually a truncated
**

pyramidal form. (The sides of the shaft, were they not

interrupted by the pyramidion, would come to their geometric

conclusion 1,333.333 feet above the base of the monument, or

777.777 feet beyond its tip.) (Fig. 11)

The Great Pyramid is also truncated--its top does not form an

apex or point, 7 but rather a rectangular platform. (Fig. 12) The

top of the shaft of the Washington Monument, (coincident with

the base of its pyramidion) is 1,189.429 square feet in area.

The top of the Great Pyramid is 1,892.798083 square feet in

area. The relationship between the two areas can be

represented by a simple ratio with an interesting

correspondence with π . Again the elegance of communication

exercised by consummate architectural design is affirmed.

1892.798083 sq’

1189.429153 sq’

5

= 1.59135

Fig. 11 Sides

extended to apex

__1__

π x 2 X 10 = 1.59135

**See that 9.417 is not 9.426, the inches of the capstone’s apothem length derived trigonometrically
**

from a 9” capstone height. Working backward from the apothem’s length number derived from the

9” capstone, would render a latitude of 38.93360578 or 38 56’ 00”.98, a location slightly to the

north.

6

3.141986363 is the figure we use for in our computations in ancient metrology.

7

We hold the 206th to have been the topmost and last stone course intended on the physical

pyramid. More information about the significance of the 206 stone courses or levels can be found in

the article, "New Perspectives on the Great Pyramid," on our website: www.sonic.net/bernard.

Fig. 12 Truncated

tip of Great Pyramid

model from above.

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <bernard@sonic.net>

Page 10 of 17

**19. Another way to find the area of the top of the shaft (or the area
**

of the base of the pyramidion) is derived by the following

formula which again summons e, the base of natural

logarithms and the height of the pyramidion:

10e x 3 ÷ 55.5555 = 1,189.429153 square feet.

20. Observation: A second novel derivation of a number close to

the base of natural logarithms can be conjured from the

number for the feet in the base side length of the obelisk.

The mean base side of the obelisk is 55.06616 feet. Square

the side, divide by 2 and then divide by 100. Now find the

natural log to get a number which approximates e, the base

of natural logarithms8:

55.066164492 = 3032.282471

3032.282471 ÷ 2 = 1516.141236

1516.141236 ÷ 100 = 15.16141236

15.16141236 -e = 2.718753539

(2.718281828 is the precise number of the base of natural logarithms)

21. The line projected from the apex along the apothem face of the

pyramidion to the ground would be 581.7 feet in length.

Multiply this number by 10 and read it as inches: 5,817 inches.

5,817 inches is also 484.75 feet – an approximate indicator for

the tangent of one second of arc: .000004848136.9

22. Observation: In a perfect world, one could expect that the

longitude of the Washington Monument would exactly indicate

the reciprocal of the number of seconds of arc in a 360 circle,

divided by one billion:

1____

1,296,000 seconds 1,000,000,000 = 77.16049383

**Read sexigesimally, 77.16049383 is 77 degrees 09
**

minutes 37 seconds.

The actual longitude of the

Monument is: 77.03503 or

77 degrees 02 minutes 06.108 seconds.

**Unfortunately, the constraints of the terrain surrounding the
**

monument precluded it from perfect placement.

8

**e (2.718281828) A mathematical constant used in describing rates of change in natural growth
**

and decay behaviors. The function of e might be used for example to calculate the rate of decay of

a radio active isotope, or the rate of growth of bacteria, or the spread of a disease in an epidemic,

or the pattern of a bouncing ball as it diminishes to a halt.

9

.000004848136 is the trigonometric tangent of one second of arc: 00º 00' 01"

Apothem angle

extended to ground

581.7 feet

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

VI.

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <bernard@sonic.net>

Page 11 of 17

**Iconic architecture actualizes the co-in-cidence of a length of
**

a line with a period of time.

Architecture can only indicate a length—perhaps in the height of a

doorway or in the perimeter of a building. It is contingent upon the

observer to take what is given one step further and ask, “What

does this length signify? Is there another level to the information

presented here? The answer to the question and the model for the

architectural metaphor lies with a simple instrument: the

precessing pendulum. This most elementary apparatus enables

communication from one dimension to another—from length of

line to length of time. Through the pendulum, architecture can

invoke time and all the dynamics associated with notions of

frequency and duration from a simple length. 10

23. Observation: Let the perfect indicated height of the obelisk,

555.555’ represent the length of a Foucault pendulum.

A pendulum this length would swing back and forth one

time in a period of 26.12011309 seconds.

Find that the square root of the height 555.555 is

23.57022604.

The ratio of the square root of the height to the period of its

time as a pendulum generates another “perfect” number:

1.228068554.

26.12011309

23.57022604

= 1.108182545

1.1081825452 = 1.228068554

1.22806554 is a primary number in the most synchronistic sense.

It represents the node of unification between a measure of time

and a measure of length. Using this perfect unit, a builder can

indicate a period of time using a linear measure of length: a

pendulum length of 1.22806554 feet beats a period of time lasting

1.22806554 seconds. At this node, time and length are

commensurate –length in time and length in feet are the same

number.

10

**Formula for determining the time a certain length would beat as a pendulum:
**

L= Length in feet, G = gravity, 32.15481179' , T = Time in seconds.

2 _L_ = T

G

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

VII.

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <bernard@sonic.net>

Page 12 of 17

**Iconic architecture incorporates astronomical orientation.
**

In many instances I have found that links to Saturn ђ (Kronos) as

source of measure are never far from the roots of iconic

architecture.11

24. Observation: A pendulum the height of the pyramidion, 55.5

feet high, would beat 10609 times in one canon day. 12 10609

references the number of canon days in the orbit of the planet

Saturn.

25. A strange and wonderful relationship exists between the

number representing the cubic volume of the capstone,

94.25959091 cu” and the reciprocal of the number

representing Canon days 13 in the orbit of the planet Saturn.

Note that this figure diverges only in last two decimal places

from that of volume derived mathematically.

___1____

.010609 ђ

= 94.25959091

as cubic inches in volume of capstone.

**26. Observation: If the angles at the base of the shaft were to be
**

extended upward beyond the pyramidion to their geometric

apex, (Fig.13) they would converge at a point 1,333.333 feet

above the base. In another synchronistic correspondence, that

height in a process coupled with 10609 (mentioned earlier as a

number referencing Kronos or Saturn) indicates the diameter

of the Earth, a necessary referent from which to reckon all

other measures. 14

_10609_ = 7.9567502 x 1000 = 7,956.75 miles

1,333.333

diameter of earth

27. Observation: An indicator of the rate of the precession of the

equinoxes can be extracted from the pyramidion’s arris length,

60.672 feet:

60.672 feet

= .60672

100

e

.60672 = 1.8344047

1.8344047 = .0050956

360

3

.0050956 x 10 = 50.9 seconds of arc precession/year.

11

**For more background on this most significant correlation, see our article “Saturn, Source of
**

Measure” online @ The Philosopher’s Stone: www.sonic.net/bernard/

12

10609.80724 times in 87636 seconds or one sacred day of 1460.6 minutes (360 sacred days to

one year).

13

A canon (sacred) year is adjusted to 360 Earth days, as opposed to 365.25 astronomical days.

14

In the canon system, the circumference of the Earth is 25,000 canon miles. There are 5,258.16

feet in one canon mile, commensurate with the number of minutes in one Sacred Year of 360 days:

525,816 minutes.

Fig. 13 Sides

converging to apex.

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

VIII.

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <bernard@sonic.net>

Page 13 of 17

**The form is contained by a geometric receptacle: the box it
**

came in.

Fig. 13 b

Fig. 13 a

**The physically existing Washington Monument has an "essential"
**

counterpart ideationally disclosed through geometry. This invisible

or complementary form reveals information about the existential

form not otherwise apparent or available. Just as a block of stone

contains a sculpture before it is released by the sculptor, so too

can the geometry of the shaft and pyramidion of the Washington

Monument (exclusive of the capstone)15 be conceived as

contained in an imaginary rectangular box. (Fig.13a) We call this

imaginary solid "the box it came in." The square base of the

monument (55.06' per side)16 is the bottom of the box, and the

distance to the top of the pyramidion, minus the capstone17, its

height. Using the formula, base2 x height = volume, the volume

of this rectangular container would be:

3,032.28 sq feet 18 x 554.81 feet 19 = 1,682,363.274 cubic feet

The process of containment in a rectangular form can be carried

further by reducing the rectangular volume to a perfect cube that

would exactly encase the form’s volume. (Fig. 14) This process of

“homogenizing” or “coercing” a form into a perfect cubic

counterpart allows it to be compared to other cubes of different

media – so that, for example, the densities of different materials

can be correlated, as between gold, aluminum, water, jade,

granite etc.

28. The rectangular box (Fig. 13b) which would contain the shaft

and pyramidion of the Washington Monument (minus

capstone), would have a volume of 1,682,363.274 cubic feet.

If the rectangular volume of 1,682,363.274 cubic feet (Fig. 13b)

were reshaped into a perfect cube, that cube would have a

major diagonal of 206 feet 20 -- the same number as the 20.6

inches of the common cubit multiplied by 10. (Fig.15)

15

**The aluminum capstone is categorically different than the rest of the monument. Conceptually, it
**

is in the world as part of the monument, but it is neither “of” the world nor of the same substance.

The capstone informs from without. Note that the height of the shaft, 500 feet divided by 9 = the

height of the pyramidian: 55.55 feet.

16

55.06616449'

17

See that by "tempering" the height of the capstone to 8.85708726", the perfect box "coerced" to

a cube with 206' diagonal can be constructed as shown in the next exercise.

18

3,032.282471 sq. feet

19

554.8174649 feet

20

206 is a germinal number generating other canon numbers: as 20.6 inches in the common cubit,

as 206 courses in the Great Pyramid, 20.6 minutes difference per day between the solar year and

sacred year of 360 days.

Fig. 14

Cube of

Volume

the

Fig. 15

Cube with 206’

major diagonal

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <bernard@sonic.net>

Page 14 of 17

**29. The 118.934-foot vertice edge of such a cube (Fig. 15)
**

multiplied by 10 would be nearly the same number as the

number of square feet in the area of the base of the

Washington Monument’s pyramidion: 1189.34. The square

root of that number being an indicator for the side of the

pyramidion’s base:

1189.34 = 34.48680907

IX.

**Iconic architecture references other iconic works.
**

Because the Washington Monument is modeled after the Egyptian

obelisk, it is circumstantially linked to the tradition of ancient

architects, and thus certain correspondences with the Egyptian

system are insured. In the following analysis we find yet another

homage to the Great Pyramid of Cheops.

30. Observation: A referent to the Great Pyramid is derived from

the length of the apothem (face) of the pyramidion (Fig. 16) of

the Washington Monument which is 58.17 feet.

58.17 x 100 = 5,817. Read as inches, 5,817 is coincidentally

the geometric height of the completed Great Pyramid.

31. Observation: Another similar reference arises when the

apothem angle of 17.24º, is extended from apex (peak) to the

level of the base of the obelisk. ( Fig. 17) As an hypotenuse

striking the ground, it will be 581.7 feet in length, again one

tenth the number of the number of inches in the height of the

Great Pyramid.

581.7 x 10 = 5817

32. Observation: The height of the entire Washington Monument is

555.555 feet, or 6,666.666 inches. If the height in inches is

divided by the number of inches in the Canon Remen21 of

17.4 inches, we arrive at a height of 381.4814813 Remen.

See that this figure divided by 10 and read as an angle

becomes 38.1481 degrees.

38.1481 degrees is the

complement of 51.8518587 º, the angle of the side of the Great

Pyramid: 51º 51’ 06" .69 (Fig. 18)

21

**Our survey defines the Canon Remen perfectly at 17.47572816 inches. We have found
**

numerous application and reference to this measure in Egyptian/Hebrew works.

Fig. 16 Length of

Apothem 58.17’

Fig. 17 Apothem

angle extended

581.7 feet to

ground.

**Fig.18 Angle of Great
**

Pyramid: 51º 51’

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

X.

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <bernard@sonic.net>

Page 15 of 17

**Iconic art transcends time and culture.
**

Monumental and iconic works of art awaken the recognition of the

sacred within and are accessible to the perceiving individual

regardless of his or her culture or epoch. The deepest expression

of iconic form is perennial. Its intention can be read and

understood through its essential geometry. More than an image,

an icon suggests potentiality beyond the image it represents. As

an icon of the nation, the Washington Monument points to a

higher state of evolution, and ultimately to a “more perfect” union.

We know from history that the founding fathers were committed to

the establishment of a national system of weights and measures.

Their dream was to bring into the world a system wherein all units

assigned as standards would have relevant relationships to all

other standards in the system--weight, temperature, distance,

volume—all unified by congruent principles. It was a vision not

realized but the intent was clear. The ideals of truth, justice, liberty

and individuality were to be epitomized by the notion of

commensurability which, in its highest form, is harmony.

As a public structure, the Washington Monument may ultimately

prove of greatest benefit and utility as an instrument of learning. In

the future, school children might come not only to experience the

Washington Monument’s grandeur, but to be energized by the

adventure of discovering its integrity – the service of each attribute

to the whole. Working collaboratively with protractor, ruler, and

calculator, the intellect and intuition of each student would

investigate our national icon as form, metaphor and consummate

demonstration of e pluribus unum.

The preceding observations are a beginning. A great work of art,

be it music or literature or architecture, continues to enlighten the

inner landscape of those whom it engages, even as she or he

evolves to deeper levels of awareness.

The Washington

Monument is just such a work–singular and articulate among the

world’s most noble structures.

The authors welcome comments, corrections, and suggestions.You may

contact Bernard by email at bernard@sonic.net

Video presentations of Bernard discussing this and other ancient monuments

can be viewed online at www.vimeo.com/channels/WrittenInStone

Appendices Follow.

**The following chart lists the published dimensions of the site and the reconciled
**

measures utilized for this treatment. Note: the decimal numbers are derived

trigonometrically.

**Appendix A: Dimensions of Washington Monument
**

Feature

Adopted figures

Height of shaft

Height of pyramidion

Height of capstone

Total Height of the Monument

Av. width of base side of shaft

Perimeter of base of shaft (4 sides)

Diagonal length of base of shaft

Surface area of one side of shaft

Total surface area of shaft (4 sides)

Face angle of pyramidion (apothem)

Length of pyramidion apothem

Arris angle of pyramidion

Arris length of pyramidion

Width of one base side of pyramidion

Perimeter of base of pyramidion (4 sides)

Surface area of one side of pyramidion

Surface area of pyramidion w/o capstone

Surface area of pyramidion (4 sides+capstone)

Width of one base side of capstone

Perimeter of base of capstone (4 sides)

Surface area of one side of capstone

Surface area of capstone (4 sides)

Arris length of capstone

Apothem length of capstone

Total Surface Area of the Monument

Volume of shaft

Volume of pyramidion (includes capstone)

Volume of capstone

Weight of capstone

Total Volume of the Monument

500’

55.555’

9”

555.555’

55.06616449’

77.87531665’

22,357.10195 sq ‘

89,428.4078 sq ‘

17.2439725

58.17024188’

23.69964257

60.7065337’

34.4881’

137.9524065 ‘

1,003.090607 sq’

4,011.631171 sq’

4,012.362428 sq ‘

5.605342418”

22.42136967”

26.32524814 sq “

Published figures

500’

55’ 5 1/8”

8.75”-8.875”-8.9”

555’ 5 1/8”

55’ 1½”

222’

22,354.22301 sq’

89,416.89203 sq’

17

60.67235226’

34’ 5½” – 34’6”

138’

5.6”

105.3009926 sq “

9.828913856 “from 10

9.423583184” from 10

93,566.26612 sq′

**1,055,427.906 cu ‘
**

22,026.46581 cu’

94.25959091 cu”

144 oz.

1,024,522.288 cu′

**1,002,495.822 cu’
**

22,026.465 cu’

100 oz.

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <bernard@sonic.net>

Page 17 of 17

Appendix B

Some Elements Distinguishing Iconic and Sacred Architecture from the Mundane.

**The sacred in art and architecture is intangible; it is neither physical nor
**

apprehended by the senses. As it resides within, the truly sacred can only be

indicated or implied without.

**Iconic architecture emerges into the world from a singular idea, encapsulating a
**

grand view, incorporating a whole concept.

**Its meaning is conveyed through geometry and measure, material, location and
**

time. Iconic principles are expressed as geometric and numerical metaphors.

**In order to access the deeper levels of a work, participation from the observer is
**

required.

When understood correctly iconic art can be entered at any single point.

**Iconic art often references astronomical, metrological, and physical constants.
**

Such references are accessible to future generations, regardless of culture or

epoch.

**The intention of an iconic work can be reconstructed from a fragment of the
**

original.

**The integrity of a work is characterized by redundant facets which fortify its
**

intended meaning.

**Iconic architecture shares aspects with other monumental work in the world and
**

has relationships to other monumental markers.

Iconic forms may be contained or embedded in a larger geometric receptacle.

**Iconic art is often site specific and self-referencing via geographic, magnetic and
**

astronomical frameworks.

**Iconic work identifies itself in the context of historical time in some manner:
**

aligning with or matching astronomical asterisks and events or biological growth

patterns established over time e.g. tree rings, coral reefs, glacial deposits.

**The conclusion/origin of an iconic design may be exterior to its physical
**

architecture.

**Nothing is hidden or secret in iconic art—that which is revealed is always apparent
**

when seen properly.

**A unified iconic “field” is guaranteed by the emergence of a canon of measure
**

wherein all units of time, distance, weight etc. are commensurate with one

another. The fundamental unit is the canon inch. It is derived from and defined by

its relationship to the second of time. Through the mechanism of the swinging

pendulum, that unit of length which beats a matching unit of time demonstrates

the convergence of categories in that domain of intuition wherein Plato says "all

things may be considered."

**The iconic expresses itself elegantly—the intended referent is never far from its
**

physical indicator.

Iconic form is antecedent to physical expression.

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