Atlantis Online
July 13, 2024, 12:20:07 pm
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Site provides evidence for ancient comet explosion
  Home Help Arcade Gallery Links Staff List Calendar Login Register  

OBELISKS - A Short History

Pages: [1] 2 3 4   Go Down
Author Topic: OBELISKS - A Short History  (Read 6799 times)
Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« on: October 16, 2007, 07:53:53 pm »

                                  A SHORT HISTORY OF THE EGYPTIAN OBELISKS.


W. R. COOPER, F.R.A.S., M.R.A.S.,

With translations of many of the

 Hieroglyphic Inscriptions

Chiefly By





IN the following pages I have endeavoured to arrange, in something like consecutive order, all that is definitely known concerning the History of the Egyptian Obelisks generally; and more particularly of those now standing.    To do this it has been necessary to compare the accounts of many writers, and the measurements of various authors, but the result of -such a comparison is far from satisfactory; in truth there is very little agreement between them; and there are several statements which cannot be reconciled with each other. Under these difficulties, I have had to rely chiefly upon the measurements of Bonomi, he being professionally a sculptor as well as an Egyptologist, and, therefore, possessing a double guarantee against liability to errors of detail. With regard to the identi-fications of the obelisks mentioned by Pliny with those now standing in Rome, it is hardly possible to be quite certain as to any special monument, except perhaps the Obelisk of the Circus Maximus. The original text of Pliny is very vague, and the judgment of Zoega is not wholly to be depended upon. For-tunately these contrarieties do not affect the chief thing in connection with the obelisk to which importance is to be attached: namely, the' interpretation of their hieroglyphics, since these latter enable us now to re-construct a history of the monarchs by whom they were erected, from their own contemporaneous records. And here let me add; that I trust that the impetus now given to Egyptian archaeology by the splendid gift of the Obelisk of London by Prof Erasmus Wilson, will not be allowed to dissipate itself after a few months' excitement; but that it will induce many of my readers to study for themselves the language of the Egyptians, which has now become accessible to all students by the Grammar of P. le Page Renouf, and the text books of Dr. Birch, the father of English Egyptology.

I have now to express my sincere thanks to M. Francois Chabas, for his very valuable aid in freely translating for me the inscriptions upon six of the principal obelisks; to Prof. Erasmus Wilson, who while himself engaged on a similar work, has with singular liberality of sentiment assisted me in my own; to Mr. Hodder Westropp for the loan of many books of reference; and to Dr. Sinclair Coghill, Mr. Westropp of Eglinton, the Rev. Clement Hue, of St. Lawrence, Prof. Monier Williams, and Mr. S. M. Drach, for many literary kindnesses in connection wth this work.


October 1, 1877
« Last Edit: October 17, 2007, 08:15:28 am by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2007, 08:02:04 pm »



                                             Characteristics of an Obelisk.

OF all the monuments of Egypt the most striking and the most characteristic are the Obelisk and the Pyramid; both of them solar emblems: the one significant of the rising, and the other of the setting sun; and both alike dating from that pre-historic period of civilization which was in perfection ere the Father of the Faithful had descended from Ur of the Chaldees, or the Turanian races of India were oppressed by their Aryan brethren.

For so long a succession of centuries has the Obelisk been admired and copied in the various cities of Africa, Asia, and Europe; Alexandria, Constantinople, and Rome, that the original peculiarities of the structure itself have been occasionally lost sight of: and any single vertical monument that could not be exactly described as a column, has been set down as in obelisk. Hence there is still in popular acceptance some inaccuracy as to the exact form that an obelisk should assume: and it becomes necessary at once to define what an obelisk is, and what it is not as to external form, before we proceed to examine the intention of its symbolism.

An obelisk, or tekhen, to give it its Egyptian name, then, is a monument composed of a single quadrangular upright stone, having its four faces inclined towards each other; and in section, all its angles, right angles, and all its sides parallel to each other; its height is not less than that of ten diameters, taken at the base; and its apex is abruptly terminated by a small pyramidion, whose faces are inclined at about an angle of sixty degrees. The obelisk is generally supported upon a quadrangular base, the height of which is approximately that of a cube and a half, and which is also, like the obelisk, composed of a single stone, this base is further supported by two broad and deep steps. It is not necessary that the four sides of either obelisk or base have in section the same width, provided that each opposite side is exactly equal; but it is necessary that all the lines of the monument be right lines; and that it should have no more than four sides. A polygonal, or a cylindrical monolith is not an obelisk; on the other hand, obelisks may be either inscribed or uninscribed; but the ornamentation is never in relief, other than the low sunken relief used in Egyptian art„ and known as incavo relievo; and the inscription is always vertical with the lines of the monument, and not horizontal.    It must be added, also, that entasis, that slight curvature of all long lines, which is so marked a feature in classic architecture, is wholly foreign to the design of an obelisk in the best period of Pharaohnic art.*

* The faces of the Flaminian obelisk as drawn by Bonomi are not equal: see Tomlinson on "The Flaminian Obelisk," Tram. Roy. Soc. Lit., Vol. 1,1 p. 176. New Series.  The obelisks of Luxor, of which the one now at Paris is an example, have certainly a convexity or entasis on the inner faces only; that is an exception to the general rule.

The dimensions of obelisks vary greatly: those of the earlier period being generally the largest, and the simplest in execution. The loftiest now in existence is that which adorns the court of the church of St. John Lateran, at Rome,** where it stands a monu-ment, first of the majesty of Thothmes III., by whom it was designed; afterwards of the power of Constan-tine the Great, who removed it sixteen hundred years later from Heliopolis to Alexandria; and lastly of his successor Constantius who re-erected it in the Circus Maximus of Imperial Rome.

** In this I follow the measurements given by Bonomi, the best writer on the subject of obelisks. Pierret however cites the obelisk of Hatasu at Karnak as being the loftiest known: it being 33 metres high; while that of Sat. John Lateran is, according to the same authority, 32 only.

The smallest obelisks are the beautiful red granite couple which are now in the Egyptian saloon of the Florentine Museum, and which are respectively seven feet, and five feet ten inches in height: The mutilated and summitless  fragments in the British Museum, though now eight feet high, were indisputably loftier when terminated by their original apexes.

The material of which the obelisk was composed was generally a granite, or hard sandstone, capable of being well cut and of taking a high polish. For symbolical reasons which will be hereafter described, the red granite of Syene was chiefly employed: twenty seven out of the forty-two obelisks now known to exist being wrought in that imperishable material; the pyramidion at the summit was, when its faces were not sculptured with votive vignettes, covered with a cap of either bronze or gold: the obelisks of Hatasu at Karnak being completed in the hieroglyphic texts as thus completed in that costly metal, while the bronze cap of the obelisk at Heliopolis remained entire till the middle ages, having reached the notice of the eminent physician and historian Abd-el-lateef who flourished circa I300. No obelisks however nowremain thus completed, the avarice of poverty or the rapacity of war having stripped from these, as well as the other monuments of Egypt, every fragment of exposed metal either to furnish gold for the extortions of the Turkish governors, or swords or guns for the defence, more often the destruction, of the Fellaheen.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2007, 08:22:31 am by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2007, 08:03:25 pm »


                                        The Symbolism of the Obelisk.

IN its original conception, the religion of Egypt was a pure monotheism, a monotheism of the most refined character, which admitted even to the last no portraiture of the Supreme Being, but adored him in his visible manifestations, and symbolised his character by allegorical representations founded upon a human form.    The distinction between portraiture and symbolic representation must be strictly recollected by the student of Egyptian theology, who is accustomed to look upon a multitude of gods, of a more or less animal nature, as characteristic of the worship of the banks of the Nile. This mistake, as old as the time of the Grecian historians, aroused the keenest notes of the satirical lyre of Juvenal, and has perpetuated the most contemptuous ridicule in the writings of the early Fathers of the Christian church; but though not immediately apparent, the differentiation between portraiture and symbolic statuary is perfectly real and natural, and, if anything, modern religious art carries out the more faulty conception of the two. When a modern worshipper looks upon the reverent furrowed features and grey beard of the first person of the Trinity in the accepted chefs d'oeuvres of Catholic art, or when he implores pity at the feet of the languid-eyed long-haired Madonna of Italian sculpture, he unconsciously regards the divine personage so represented, as so looking; and Christian iconography has accepted a perfectly well-defined ideal likeness of every person in the Godhead. Not so the Egyptian devotee: he never attributed to Ra or Anubis the actual possession of a human body with either the beak of a hawk, or the snout of a jackal; a cow-headed Isis or a snake-headed Horus, though both common enough in the temple statuary, was regarded simply as an allegorical conception, a sculptured metaphor to convey to the mind's eye the attributes of a being, who was himself inconceivable and indescribable.  In the higher mysteries of the sacred books, the Great Supreme was spoken of as the creator and controller of all the gods, who were but his various manifestations; while the Sun itself, that mysterious luminary upon whose beneficent beams all human or vegetable life depended, was regarded as his clearest symbol, and as partaking in some degree of the divine essence; and it was therefore worshipped throughout Egypt with a universal veneration.   

Upon the position of the sun, then, its gradual rise from the eastern horizon, its glorious enthronization in the mid-day firmament, and its gentle decline behind the mountains of the west, from thence to traverse during the twelve hours of night the mysterious regions of the Underworld: upon its course along the heavens, and its station in all these positions, the theology of Egypt was based. Based theoretically on a spiritual, it became practically a solar worship, the sun being venerated under its two chief deifications, Ra the rising and mid-day sun, to whose cultus the obelisk was appropriated, and Turn the setting or midnight sun, the emblem of whose influence was the pyramid. In Ra, according to the solar litanies, were combined all the attributes of power and wisdom; the source of life and the springs of health were his; every characteristic quality of each of the multiform lesser deities of Egypt he possessed in full perfection, and the noblest and most exalted language was used to describe his nature and offices. The soul of man, which emanated originally from his own essence, rose from the pre-existent eternity with him, and descended for a time into the shades of the Underworld, there still to venerate its maker, and again to arise purified and justified till it was eventually reabsorbed into the solar orb from which it was first emitted.   

The Litany of Ra, one of the most famous of the sacred liturgies of the Egyptians, declares the deity to be "An Eternal Essence; "Self Created;" “The Supreme Power;" "The Original;" "The Creator of his own Members," that is of his own manifestations, the active life of all things; "The Father of the Eternal Son," i.e., of Horus who performed in Egyptian mythology the part of a justifier and a redeemer of the believers in Ra; "The Spirit of Space filling all things;” “The Invisible;" "The Ruler of Heaven and Hell;" The Revealer of Secrets;" "The Cause of both Light and Darkness;" "The Dweller in Inapproachable Darkness;" "The Breath of all Souls;" "The Cause of all that is;" and "The Most Mysterious God;` in fine, all the deities and all things that exist were but manifestations of himself; nature was reduced to a spiritual pantheism. As the powerful rays of the sun were often suddenly fatal, so the attribute of wrath was ascribed to Ra; but inasmuch as he was too remote and too sublime to experience a personal anger, his vengeful attributes were personified in Shu, the lion-headed god of forces, and Tefnut, the lion-headed goddess of vengeance. The hawk, that noble bird which in Egypt soared highest of all flying creatures, was sacred to the sun; the bull amongst animals, because he was both the strongest, and because his powers of generation were believed to be instantaneous, was honoured as his representative, as he is to this day in Southern India for nearly the same reason. The supreme, as the sun, reigned dominant, sole and eternal in Egyptian mythology; his glory might indeed be manifested in another deity but it could not be shared by it, inas-much as in certain operations the sun, as Ra, was believed to assume a lower position in the relation which one attribute bore to the other, and therefore was ranked occasionally as one of the secondary deities; it was merely an official not a spiritual subordination: Ra still remained all in all, whether he were called Ra-Tum, Amen-Ra (the hidden), Ra-Har-makhu (the sun in the horizon), Horus-Ra, the mediatory god, or Kheper-Ra, the creator; in the last character being represented by the sacred scarabeus holding the cosmic ball between his front legs.

[The scarabeus, Ateuchis Sacer, was regarded as an emblem of the sun, because it was in the habit of laying its eggs in a ball of dung or clay, which it kept rolling before it till they were vivified by the direct heat of the sun.]     

Of this all-powerful deity the obelisk was considered to be the most technical symbol: inasmuch as its sharply defined lines and narrow proportions, conjoined with its immense height, gave no imperfect representation of a pencil or ray of light, such as would often be seen darting vertically downwards through the crevices of the gathering clouds. For this reason also, granite, as being the most durable material, was generally chosen, that the least destructible stone might represent the eternal sun; and the colour red, was likewise selected as analogous to the hue of the disk of the sun, when viewed across the sands of the Lybian desert. There was also a further reason why the obelisk was dedicated to the sun as the creator, but that reason is one which can only be here alluded to, as affording one of the earliest indications of a form of nature worship which has led to the most painful and objectionable excesses.

[Pierret, Dict. Arch. Egypt., "Obelisque." There is, however, no reason to believe that at the early period of Egyptian history, or indeed till after the Greek invasion under the Psammetichi, there was any obscenity either of thought or action connected with the symbolical worship of the obelisk. The nature of this worship is beyond dispute, for in the Museum of the Louvre there is a mummied phallus preserved in an upright wooden case shaped like an obelisk, and honoured as a symbol of Amen the generator.]

As the king while living was theologically regarded as both a son of Ra, and also by an hypostasis, Ra himself, it followed as a corollary that the inscriptions on the obelisk were generally honorific of the sovereign by whom it was erected, and that they conveyed more the declarations of Ra to the monarch than any direct homage of the Pharaoh to the god. Hence the very little historical value of the obelisk texts in general; few of them were dated; they consisted chiefly of the same monotonous list of official epithets and magniloquent titles, with the so-called banner name, or Horus title of the sovereign, at the top, a title which he assumed as the personation of Horus-Ra himself; and on the sides of the pyramidion, or sometimes at the lower portion of the monument, a vignette, representing either the king standing and making an offering to Amen-Ra, or else kneeling at the feet of the god, who was figured as investing him with the sacred crown of the double kingdom, and commissioning him to conquer all nations, and to take the spoils of all lands.

As the execution of an obelisk was a work of considerable time, and as it was always sculptured after it had been permanently placed in position; it not infrequently happened, as will be hereafter shown in the cases of the Luxor and Lateran obelisks, that a monument erected by one Pharaoh has been completed by another; and where the centre line of inscription has been finished by the original dedicator, his son or successor has subsequently added parallel columns setting forth his own glory; and in one or two examples the second appropriator has had the meanness to attempt to erase the cartouch of his preceder and to substitute his own, an attempt that has not in any case been successful, an attempt besides of the meanest character, and according to the rules of Egyptian mythology of the basest and most cruel nature; as by the obliteration of the name of an individual from his stele or monument, the spiritual life of that person was itself imperilled.  Of this disgraceful conduct, one of the greatest Pharaohs of Egypt, Thothmes III., had the pettyness to be guilty, by the defacement of the name of his great sister queen Hatasu, at Deir-el-bahri; a meanness rendered only the more glaringly apparent, by the inability of the forger to erase or alter the personal pronouns in the whole of the long dedications which would not grammatically agree with the titles and cartouch of Thothmes.

In concluding this chapter, it remains but to be stated that a still more serious defacement of the Egyptian monuments, and obelisks in particular, took place upon two occasions, when for religious motives which are not quite apparent at this lapse of time, the figure of the god Set was hammered out wherever it occurred in a royal cartouch, and that of Ra substituted for it. At another period also the name as well as the figure of Amen suffered the like erasement, and there is evidence that these alterations must have been by order of a very powerful change of religious feeling: for the objectionable names were obliterated and the others reinscribed on the most inaccessible portions of the temples, as well as on the bases of the votive statues. And in the instance of the obelisk of the Lateran, a scaffolding must have been erected for the sole purpose of chiselling out a portion of a few small cartouches at the very summit of the monolith: cartouches which were almost invisible from the ground, at the height at which they were carved.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2007, 08:06:24 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2007, 08:04:41 pm »


                                   Relations of the Obelisk and the Pyramid.

THE first mention of the obelisk, or tekhen, occurs in connection with the pyramid: and both are alike designated sacred monuments on the funeral stele of the early empire, and also were undeniably devoted to the worship of the sun; occasionally the obelisk was represented as surmounting a pyramid, a position which it has never actually been found to occupy. The fundamental idea of the obelisk was doubtless that of light and creation, but towards the period of the XXIInd dynasty, the syllabic value of stability was attached to it, a characteristic hitherto only symbolised by the Nilometer, or tat.

The monuments of the usurping kings of the XIIIth and subsequent dynasties, have been defaced and appropriated by the Pharaohs of the XVIIIth or XIXth. Atefnuter Ai, of the XVIIIth dynasty, had his name erased by his successors on account of his illegitimacy; Amenhotep IV., on account of his heresy in the proscription of the worship of Amen for that of Aten Ra; and Shabaka the Ethiopian, because he was an usurper. The chief defacers of the monuments of their predecessors were the famous monarchs Thothmes III. and Rameses II., both actuated apparently by motives of jealousy and the monument was then termed; Men, which was a portion of the divine name of the deity Amen-Ra, to whom it was generally dedicated. These ideas came naturally: as the expression of Egyptian mythology Amen-Ra, or Ra as the generator could be properly represented as "Lord of Obelisks," implying lord of stability in the heavenly world, as Osiris was called "Lord of Tattu," and was represented by two tats, emblems of his stability as judge of the dead, and lord of the lower world; while the pyramid ab mer symbolised the midnight or subterranean sun.    Hence arose both the connection and the differentiation between the two classes of votivi, a differentiation not sufficiently regarded, but which was in itself highly significant.  These differences deserve numerical notice here:     

The obelisks of Egypt are all situated on the eastern side of the Nile, that being the district of the rising sun; while all the pyramids are located on the western bank of the river, the land of the sun setting; located amidst rock cut cemeteries, and the tumuli of the undistinguished dead of many generations.

The obelisk was invariably a monolith, and stood upon a base either cubiform, or of one or two steps or gradines. The pyramids were always composed of several courses of stone, even where the position of the ground allowed of their being like the sphynx cut out of the natural rock.

Obelisks were almost invariably erected in pairs, fronting the chief pylons of the greater temples; they preserved a symmetrical relation to each other; and they were surrounded by colonnades and aediculi, or smaller temples, dedicated to the lesser deities, or to the king as himself a deity.

On the other hand, with the sole exception of the so-called pyramids of Moeris or Amenemha III., of which no remains now exist, the pyramids were always though congregated in groups, yet arranged independently of each other; and the principle of duplication was not followed in their distribution.

The obelisks were generally inscribed, and those which remain without an inscription were evidently prepared to receive one, Their intention was to exalt the glory of the living monarch the son of the sun, or Ra.    The pyramids have no external inscription (the testimony of Herodotus notwithstanding); whatever hieroglyphics there were, were reserved for the sepulchral coffin, and the chamber in which it was deposited. The inscription in a pyramid had reference to the dead, the Osiride Pharaoh, and not to the reigning sovereign.

The obelisks were in many cases tipped with a metal covering; the pyramids were on the other hand covered by a casing of polished stones, which several of them still retain in a more or less perfect condition, a fate which has not befallen the brasen summits of the more slender monuments.

Many of the obelisks of Egypt occupy no longer, even in their own country, their original situation: those of Alexandria were removed from On to Alexandria, and that of Heliopolis was probably reerected in a later period than that of the monarch whose name it bears. Twelve, if not more obelisks, were carried off to Italy by the Romans, two were transported to Nineveh by Assurbanipal on the establishment of the Dodecarchy, and these two it is to be regretted have not yet been found, probably they still remain under the debris of the city of Assur. On the other 'hand, not one of the pyramids has been removed from its place, several have been destroyed, and many mutilated, but though the Romans imitated the work of the Egyptians in the pyramid of Caius Cestius, and probably other funereal monuments also, they never attempted to carry and re-erect any of the smaller pyramids, which they might easily have done.

Lastly, it may be observed that the name of the erecters of the obelisks are mostly all known to us, while those of the founders of the lesser pyramids are either lost or else are difficult to identify. The stelae of the priests of many of the deified pyramid builders of the Vth dynasty re-main, but the identical structures to which they were attached cannot now be verified, they are among the many historical data which time, more revengeful even than ambition, has erased from the tablets of archaeology.

It is in itself a remarkable peculiarity of everything connected with the worship of the Ancient Egyptians, that it had its rise long prior to the genesis of Classic history; that it existed in full power contemporaneously with the theologies of India, Greece, Etruria, and Rome, and that it, overlapping Christianity itself, only ceased to become venerated when all material worship had been swept away; neither the philosophy of Plato, nor the atheism of Cicero could influence beyond a certain limit the term of the Egyptian mythology; it still awed the mixed multitudes in Alexandria under the sway of the Caesars, as it had done the ancient Egyptians, "the pure men," as they called themselves in the time of Menes and Athothes ; the tributes of distant countries were still brought by the Ptolemies to the shrine of Tum, as they had been a thousand years before by Rameses III., and Alexander and Darius paid homage to Amen-Ra in the temple which his Egyptian votaries had erected to his glory, when the Greeks were a Nomadic herd, and the Persians unknown barbarians.

The most ancient of all the existing obelisks, if we except a small model, one discovered by Lepsiusin a tomb of the VIIth dynasty, is that of Usirtesen I of the XIIth dynasty, circa 3064 B.C. ; and the most recent that of Domitian; now in the Piazza Navona at Rome, A.D. 81. Thus the Egyptian faith, as attested by the obelisks alone, covered a space of more than 3000 years, not including the long prior period occupied by the first twelve dynasties. In all that long stretch of time the obelisk was a sacred monument; was the emblem at once of the vivifying power of the sun, and of the divine nature of the king; a witness for the "right divine to govern wrong,” for thirty-one centuries at least. There does not exist in any of the capitals of Europe, and perhaps not even in the more ancient cities of Hindustan, a class of objects which have received uninterrupted veneration for as long a time as have obelisks.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2007, 08:24:02 am by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2007, 08:12:57 am »

Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2007, 08:27:08 am »

This Unfinished Obelisk is the big
attraction here in would
have been an 1100-ton solid granite
needle, had it been completed.

The Egyptian people went to great
expense of labor to carve out the
surrounding channels using only
rounded stone balls to pound the
stone away.

The Unfinished Obelisk of Aswan
from which we learned of the
procedures used by the
Ancient Egyptians.

Aswan, Egypt -- March 23, 1999

This was from a project for NOVA on PBS, called
"Mysteries of Lost Empires --The Pharoah's Obelisk"

This project re-created the raising of a 30-ton obelisk.

I finally showed them it can be done but they still did
not let me play with the big one...
bunch of stuffy beaurocrats!

Read the entire story online at:
« Last Edit: October 17, 2007, 08:43:31 am by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2009, 09:29:04 am »

Obelisk of Pharaoh Senusret I,
Al-Masalla area of Al-Matariyyah
district in Heliopolis, Cairo

                                                     E G Y P T I A N   O B E L I S K S

Obelisks were prominent in the architecture of the ancient Egyptians, who placed them in pairs at the entrance of temples. The word "obelisk" is of Greek rather than Egyptian origin because Herodotus, the Greek traveler,
was the first to describe the objects. Twenty-nine ancient Egyptian obelisks are known to have survived, plus the "Unfinished Obelisk" found partly hewn from its quarry at Aswan. These obelisks are now dispersed around the world, and less than half of them remain in Egypt.

The earliest temple obelisk still in its original position is the 20.7 m / 68 ft high 120 tons  red granite Obelisk of Senusret I of the XIIth Dynasty at Al-Matariyyah part of Heliopolis.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 09:35:55 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2009, 09:36:57 am »


The obelisk symbolized the sun god Amon Re, and during the brief religious reformation of Akhenaten was said to be a petrified ray of the Aten, the sundisk. It was also thought that the god existed within the structure.

It is hypothesized by New York University Egyptologist Patricia Blackwell Gary and Astronomy senior editor Richard Talcott that the shapes of the ancient Egyptian pyramid and obelisk were derived from natural phenomena associated with the sun (the sun-god Ra being the Egyptians' greatest deity).  The pyramid and obelisk would have been inspired by previously overlooked astronomical phenomena connected with sunrise and sunset: the zodiacal light and sun pillars respectively.

The Ancient Romans were strongly influenced by the obelisk form, to the extent that there are now more than twice as many obelisks standing in Rome as remain in Egypt. All fell after the Roman period except for the Vatican obelisk and were re-erected in different locations.

The tallest Egyptian obelisk graces the square in front of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. this one is 105.6 feet tall and weighs 455 tons

Not all the Egyptian obelisks re-erected in the Roman Empire were set up at Rome. Herod the Great imitated his Roman patrons and set up a red granite Egyptian obelisk in the hippodrome of his grand new city Caesarea in northern Judea. This one is about 40 feet tall and weighs about 100 tons.  It was discovered by archaeologists and has been re-erected at its former site.

In Constantinople, the Eastern Emperor Theodosius shipped an obelisk in AD 390 and had it set up in his hippodrome, where it has weathered Crusaders and Seljuks and stands in the Hippodrome square in modern Istanbul. This one originally stood 95 feet tall weighing 380 tons its lower half reputedly also once stood in Istanbul but is now lost. It now stands 65 feet tall probably not much if any more than 200 tons.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 09:40:33 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2009, 09:43:10 am »


« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 10:08:35 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2009, 09:46:47 am »

Vatican City's obelisk is the most ancient of all.

Rome is the obelisk capital of the world.

The most prominent is the 25.5 m / 83.6 ft high 331 tons obelisk at Saint Peter's Square in Rome.   The obelisk had stood since AD 37 on its site on the wall of the Circus of Nero, flanking St Peter's Basilica:

"The elder Pliny in his Natural History refers to the obelisk's transportation from Egypt to Rome by order of the Emperor Gaius (Caligula) as an outstanding event. The barge that carried it had a huge mast of fir wood which four men's arms could not encircle. One hundred and twenty bushels of lentils were needed for ballast. Having fulfilled its purpose, the gigantic vessel was no longer wanted. Therefore, filled with stones and cement, it was sunk to form the foundations of the foremost quay of the new harbour at Ostia."

Re-erecting the obelisk had daunted even Michelangelo, but Sixtus V was determined to erect it in front of St Peter's, of which the nave was yet to be built, and had a full-sized wooden mock-up erected within months of his election.

Domenico Fontana, the assistant of Giacomo Della Porta in the Basilica's construction, presented the Pope with a little model crane of wood and a heavy little obelisk of lead, which Sixtus himself was able to raise by turning a little winch with his finger. Fontana had the project.

The obelisk, half-buried in the debris of the ages, was first excavated as it stood; then it took from April 30 to May 17, 1586 to move it on rollers to the Piazza: it required nearly 1000 men, 140 carthorses, 47 cranes.

The re-****, scheduled for September 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, was watched by a large crowd. It was a famous feat of engineering, which made the reputation of Fontana, who detailed it in a book illustrated with copperplate etchings, 'Della Trasportatione dell'Obelisco Vaticano et delle Fabriche di Nostro Signore Papa Sisto V (1590)', which itself set a new standard in communicating technical information and influenced subsequent architectural publications by its meticulous precision. 

Before being re-erected the obelisk was exorcised.

It is said that Fontana had teams of relay horses to make his getaway if the enterprise failed. When Carlo Maderno came to build the Basilica's nave, he had to put the slightest kink in its axis, to line it precisely with the obelisk.

An obelisk stands in front of the church of Trinità dei Monti, at the head of the Spanish Steps.

Another obelisk in Rome is sculpted as carried on the back of an elephant.

Rome lost one of its obelisks, which had decorated the temple of Isis, where it was uncovered in the 16th century. The Medici claimed it for the Villa Medici, but in 1790 they managed to move it to the Boboli Gardens attached to the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, and left a replica in its stead.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 10:13:26 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2009, 09:48:38 am »

Turkey's Obelisk in Instanbul

Several more of the original Egyptian obelisks have been shipped and re-erected around the world. The best-known examples outside Rome are the pair of 21 m /68 ft Cleopatra's Needles in London(69 feet 187 tons) and New York City(70 feet 193 tons) and the 23 m / 75 ft 227 tons obelisk at the Place de la Concorde in Paris.

There are 29 known ancient Egyptian obelisks in the following locations:

Egypt – 9

Pharaoh Tuthmosis I, Karnak Temple, Luxor

Pharaoh Ramses II, Luxor Temple

Pharaoh Hatshepsut, Karnak Temple, Luxor

Pharaoh Senusret I, Al-Masalla area of Al-Matariyyah district in Heliopolis, Cairo

Pharaoh Ramses III, Luxor Museum

Pharaoh Ramses II, Gezira Island, Cairo, 20.4 m

Pharaoh Ramses II, Cairo International Airport, 16.97 m
Pharaoh Seti II, Karnak Temple, Luxor, 7 m

Pharaoh Senusret I, Faiyum (ancient site of Crocodilopolis), 12.9 m

France – 1

Pharaoh Ramses II, in Place de la Concorde, Paris

Israel – 1

Caesarea obelisk

Italy – 11 (includes the only one located in the Vatican City)

8 in Rome (see Obelisks in Rome)
Piazza del Duomo, Catania (Sicily)

Boboli Gardens (Florence)


Poland – 1

Ramses II, Poznań Archaeological Museum, Poznań (on loan from Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, Berlin)

Turkey – 1

Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, in Square of Horses, Istanbul

United Kingdom – 4

Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, "Cleopatra's Needle", on Victoria Embankment, London

Pharaoh Amenhotep II, in the Oriental Museum, University of Durham

Pharaoh Ptolemy IX, Philae Obelisk, at Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne Minster, Dorset

Pharaoh Nectanebo II, British Museum, London

United States – 1

Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, "Cleopatra's Needle", in Central Park, New York

« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 10:04:26 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2009, 12:45:34 pm »

Piazza Del Popolo
- Roma
Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2009, 12:47:03 pm »




                                           CAMPUS MARTIS - THE FIELD OF MARS
Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2009, 12:49:11 pm »

                               MAP OF THE  13 OBELISKS IN ROME

I Vaticano

II Obelischo al Esquilino

III Lateranese 

IV Flaminio

 V Agonale

VI Minerveo

VII Macutteo

VIII Quirinale

IX Sallustiano

 X Campenese

XI Mattejano

XII Aureliano

XIII Dogali
Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2009, 12:50:35 pm »

Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
Pages: [1] 2 3 4   Go Up
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum
Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy