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OBELISKS - A Short History

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Bianca
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« Reply #45 on: February 27, 2009, 02:05:30 pm »









CHAPTER III.
 
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.
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