The Washington Monument

© 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

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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.
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.

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
3. The number 10 generates the volume of the perfect

The volume of the pyramidion in cubic feet is the same
number as the anti-natural logarithm of 10.

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The volume of the pyramidion: 22026.46579 cubic feet.
The anti-natural log of 10:

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.

94.25959091 (the reciprocal of .010609) X 3 = 282.7787727
282.77877279 = 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 .)

17.2439725 degrees
606.7235226 feet

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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:
(Height x Base )

= 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.

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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
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

Find the anti-natural log,
by 10 to find:


of 2.802671209 and multiply


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:


1 Cubic Inch = .095420362 lbs.
1 Cubic Inch =
1.5267253 oz.
1 Cubic Foot = 164.8863259 lbs.
1 Cubic Foot = 2,638.181241oz.

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In one cubic foot there are 2,638.181241 ounces of aluminum.
44 ounces of aluminum, divides into one cubic foot 59.5866396 times.
x 1728 = 28.81985498 cubic inches
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
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

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.

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.

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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


= 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.)

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

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.

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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

Iconic architecture may reference its location.

Cosine 45

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.


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

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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”.

Iconic architecture references universal constants

Fig. 10 Photo of replica
from Smithsonian

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’


= 1.59135

Fig. 11 Sides
extended to apex

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

Fig. 12 Truncated
tip of Great Pyramid
model from above.

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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:
1,296,000 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.

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

Apothem angle
extended to ground
581.7 feet

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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
 The ratio of the square root of the height to the period of its
time as a pendulum generates another “perfect” number:

= 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


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

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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
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
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.
.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
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
.60672 = 1.8344047
1.8344047 = .0050956
.0050956 x 10 = 50.9 seconds of arc precession/year.

For more background on this most significant correlation, see our article “Saturn, Source of
Measure” online @ The Philosopher’s Stone:
10609.80724 times in 87636 seconds or one sacred day of 1460.6 minutes (360 sacred days to
one year).
A canon (sacred) year is adjusted to 360 Earth days, as opposed to 365.25 astronomical days.
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.

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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)

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.
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.
3,032.282471 sq. feet
554.8174649 feet
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


Fig. 15
Cube with 206’
major diagonal

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson

“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <>

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

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)


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

Fig.18 Angle of Great
Pyramid: 51º 51’

© Bernard I. Pietsch / Suzanne Thompson


“The Washington Monument: Icon by Design” <>

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
Video presentations of Bernard discussing this and other ancient monuments
can be viewed online at

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

Appendix A: Dimensions of Washington Monument

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

22,357.10195 sq ‘
89,428.4078 sq ‘
137.9524065 ‘
1,003.090607 sq’
4,011.631171 sq’
4,012.362428 sq ‘
26.32524814 sq “

Published figures

55’ 5 1/8”
555’ 5 1/8”
55’ 1½”
22,354.22301 sq’
89,416.89203 sq’

34’ 5½” – 34’6”


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” <>

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

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

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

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

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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