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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
New York in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Central Park's Ancient Egyptian Obelisk

Cleopatra’s Needle

 
 
Central Park's Ancient Egyptian Obelisk Marker image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, November 19, 2016
1. Central Park's Ancient Egyptian Obelisk Marker
One of a series of new waysides being installed around the park by the Central Park Conservancy.
Inscription. For such a colossal object, this obelisk is well-travelled. Central Park is the third location for this 220-ton granite monument, which is the oldest public monument in New York City.

Pharaoh Thutmose III commissioned this obelisk approximately 3500 years ago (c. 1425 B.C.E.). It was one of a pair that was installed outside the Temple of the Sun in Heliopolis, a city north of modern-day Cairo. Scholars believe that obelisks were symbols of eternity and immortality, with their tall, tapering forms connecting the earth to the sun. The surface of the obelisk is covered in hieroglyphics that praise Thutmose III and subsequent rulers.

Around 12 B.C.E. the Romans discovered the two obelisks that had toppled and were partially buried in the sand. They transported the obelisks to Alexandria, Egypt where they were installed at the entrance to the Caesareum, a temple dedicated to Julius Caesar. The Romans also added the bronze crabs, to provide support where the corners of the shaft had been damaged, and the stepped limestone base.

During the 1800s, interest in Egyptian antiquities renewed attention to obelisks and other artifacts, which were acquired by European nations and gifted by the Egyptian government to further diplomatic ties. In 1869, the Khedive of Egypt offered this obelisk to the United States, and prominent New Yorkers

The obelisk after restoration (November 2016) image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, November 19, 2016
2. The obelisk after restoration (November 2016)
began to plan for its removal. The transportation and installation of the obelisk was a significant feat of logistics and engineering that took over a year and marked a defining moment for the city. In January 1881, the obelisk was erected in its current location across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was instrumental in its acquisition.

In 2011 the Central Park Conservancy embarked on a project to conserve the obelisk, the most comprehensive in its history. This included extensive documentation of the monument, a thorough cleaning of the granite, and repair and protection of areas of fragility on its surface. The project has restored the obelisk to its former prominence, revealing once again the color and texture of the granite and the hieroglyphics on its surface, and will help preserve this treasure of ancient culture for future generations.
 
Erected by Central Park Conservancy.
 
Location. 40° 46.765′ N, 73° 57.931′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker can be reached from East Drive. Touch for map. Behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Marker is in this post office area: New York NY 10024, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Cleopatra’s Needle (within shouting distance of this marker);

In commeration of an earlier restoration project. image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, November 19, 2016
3. In commeration of an earlier restoration project.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (approx. 0.2 miles away); Belvedere Tower (approx. 0.2 miles away); Upper East Side Historic District (approx. 0.3 miles away); Kerbs Memorial Boathouse (approx. 0.4 miles away); Ada Louise Huxtable (approx. 0.4 miles away); Park Avenue Christian Church (approx. 0.4 miles away); 1025 Park Avenue (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New York.
 
Regarding Central Park's Ancient Egyptian Obelisk. The inserts show: the obelisk in Alexandria, Egypt; its transportation across Manhattan, conservation in progress; the obelisk before conservation.
 
Categories. ArchitectureArts, Letters, Music
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 28, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 28, 2016, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 129 times since then and 46 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on November 28, 2016, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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