Sunday, April 27, 2014

Short Story: Egyptian Obelisks around the World

The ancient Egyptian obelisks today decorate many European cities, among them Paris and London, were mostly transported during the nineteenth century when the desirability of preserving ancient sites was less well appreciated than it is today, and when Egypt’s rulers, not always particularly interested in the country’s heritage, found themselves casting round for suitable gifts to press upon their European neighbours.

As a result, while at the beginning of the nineteenth century only Rome, among European cities, had a significant population of obelisks, most of them having been transported by the Romans in antiquity, by the century’s end London and Paris each boasted particularly fine examples. The London obelisk, carved during the reign of the 18th Dynasty pharaoh Tuthmosis III, was re-erected on the Thames embankment in 1878, and the Paris one, dating from the reign of the 19th Dynasty pharaoh Ramses II, was set up in the more splendid location of the Place de la Concorde in 1836.

Obelisks around the World: 
1.Washington Monument, Washington DC, United States 
Standing just over 555 feet (169.294 meters) tall, the Washington Monument is the world’s tallest obelisk as well as the world’s tallest stone structure. Like many modern obelisks, it is not monolithic but rather composed of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss. Construction began in 1848 and completed only in 1884. It is one of the most recognized symbols of Washington and even the United States.
2. Obelisk at Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City   
Located in the middle of one of the most famous city squares in the world, the obelisk in Saint Peter’s square is a 4,000 years old Egyptian obelisk which was transported from Egypt to Rome during the reign of Emperor Augustus. It was moved from the circus to its current site in 1586. During the Middle Ages, the gilt ball on top of the obelisk was believed to contain the ashes of Julius Caesar. However, when the ancient metal ball was removed, it was empty. This ancient monolithic obelisk is just over 25 meters tall.

3. Luxor Obelisk, Paris, France 
The Place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris, it is located at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées. At the center of the square there is a giant Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphics – the Luxor Obelisk. The obelisk was given to France by the Egyptian government in the early 19th century, and was set in the middle of the square in 1836. This monolithic obelisk is 23 metres (75 ft) high and weighs over 250 metric tons (280 short tons). The origin of the Obelisk is the Luxor Temple, where it was one of two similar obelisks, hence the name. But the obelisk is also known as Cleopatra’s Needle – one of three Egyptian obelisk with this name. The others being in London and New York. 
 4. Lateran Obelisk, Rome, Italy 
The tallest standing monolithic obelisk in the world. The 455 tons monument was shipped from Egypt and was set in the Circus Maximus in the year 357. It later broke and was buried for centuries until 1588 when it was dug up and relocated to a new location, where it is today

5. Cleopatra’s Needle, New York, United States 
 As mentioned before, three Egyptian obelisks were transported during the 19th century to New York, London and Paris. All three of them are called Cleopatra’s Needle, even though they have nothing to do with Cleopatra and were already over a thousand years old in her lifetime. The London and New York obelisks are a pair and originate from the Egyptian city of Heliopolis (now Cairo). They are made of red granite, they are 21 metres (69 ft) high and weigh about 224 tons. The obelisk in New York was erected in Central Park in 1881. 

6. Flaminio Obelisk, Rome, Italy 
Another one of the 13 obelisks currently standing in Rome. Located in the Piazza del Popolo, this Egyptian monolithic obelisk is 24 meters (67 ft) high, 46.5 meters with the base. It was brought to Rome in 10 BC in placed in the Circus Maximus (some 300 years before the Lateran obelisk was placed there). It was rediscovered broken to pieces in 1587 along with the Lateran obelisk and placed in it’s current location.

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