The Unfinished Obelisk
One of the unforgettable monoliths of Aswan is the majestic Unfinished Obelisk. It is without a doubt the largest obelisk ever constructed but unfortunately was uncompleted. It offers the chance to shed some light on how such massive structures were created in ancient Egypt during Egypt new kingdom by the hands of Hatshepsut.
The History of the Unfinished Obelisk
It was built in a very unique manner as it depended on a Greek style of architecture as it had four sides converging to a mini pyramidal shape at the top of the obelisk, it was built in the new kingdom during the 18th dynasty by Queen Hatshepsut, the Wife of King Thutmose II (1478-1458 B.C) to be placed in the Karnak Temple and to complement the Lateran Obelisk, originally in Karnak but later moved to Rome. It is located in its original location a granite quarry in Aswan and would have measured 42 m making it the tallest obelisk in history but the project was unfortunately abandoned due to the discovery of numerous cracks in the obelisk. It would also have been the heaviest obelisk weighing 1200 tons. The obelisk was carved into the bedrock red granite and designed to resemble the primeval hill from the myth of creation where the world appeared for the first time.
The Construction of the Obelisk
The location that holds the obelisk is considered to be an open-air museum. The obelisk is able to tell us about the instruments used to construct this massive monument such as dolerite, a small ball made of a mineral harder than granite to carve the obelisk out. They also used many creative building techniques to spread the obelisk from the bedrock as they made some small cavities in the rock and those cavities were filled with wood chips. The chips were soaked with water. The soaking made expand causing the obelisk to detach from the base.
Other Obelisks in Egypt
There are additional eight great Obelisks, which remain in Egypt today:
- Karnak temple, Thebes established by King Tuthmosis I.
- Karnak temple, Thebes established by Queen Hatshepsut, which is the second obelisk (fallen)
- Karnak temple, Thebes raised by Seti II (7m).
- Luxor temple established by Ramses II.
- Luxor Museum raised by Ramses II
- Heliopolis, Cairo raised by Senusret I.
- Gezira Island, Cairo established by Ramses II (20.4m high / 120 tons).
- Cairo International Airport established by Ramses II 16.97m high.