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The Unfinished Obelisk

The Unfinished Obelisk is one of the most popular historical sites in the magnificent city of Aswan. Almost all tours to Egypt that include a visit to Aswan have a visit to the Unfinished Obelisk included.

Apart from its gigantic size and historical significance, the Unfinished Obelisk serves as a live documentation and demonstration of the process of obelisk building in ancient Egypt.

Tour guides who accompany tourists visiting Egypt always take the chance while visiting the unfinished obelisk to explain to their guests spending their vacations in Egypt the story and the history of obelisks in the Pharaonic period

Geographical Location of the Unfinished Obelisk 

The Unfinished Obelisk is situated in the Southern section of the city of Aswan in the ancient granite quarry that was used as far as the ruling period of the New Kingdom of ancient Egypt and perhaps before that.

Located near a historical Fatimid necropolis, the Unfinished Obelisk can be easily reached by a taxi or a rented car. However, it is always recommended for tourists, planning to spend a pleasant holiday in Egypt, to organize their trip with one of the accredited tour agencies in Egypt which will always include visits to the most important and popular historical sites in Egypt.

The History of the Unfinished Obelisk 

Many historians and scholars have asserted that the unfinished obelisk was in process of getting constructed in the ruling period of Queen Hatshepsut who ruled Egypt in the period from the end of the 16th century till the middle of the 15th century BC.

If the Unfinished Obelisk were constructed as it was planned, it would have become the largest and tallest obelisk ever created by ancient Egyptians. It was even claimed that it would have been the largest piece of rock ever humans dealt with.

The unfinished obelisk is still attached to the original rock it was supposed to be cut out from until today. There are many marks of how the ancient Egyptians tried to cut it and construct one of their marvelous obelisks.

However, due to an unwanted split near its top, the workers had to abandon the whole process and they left it in its place for thousands of years to amaze tourists coming from all over the world to visit Egypt.

The Description of the Unfinished Obelisk 

With being 41 meters high, the length of the base being 4 meters, and with a weight that exceeds more than 1169 tons, the Unfinished Obelisk, although it is now lying down in the quarries, is quite impressive and gigantic.

Tourists enter from the gate situated in the Eastern section of the site. Afterwards they keep moving until they reach the unfinished obelisk where they can move all around it and admire its greatness.

Obelisks in Ancient Egypt

Obelisks, the same as the pyramids, are magnificent surviving evidences of how great and creative the ancient Egyptians were. Just think of how the Pharaohs were able to cut this huge piece of granite, transfer it, and pull it to be standing still for thousands of years.

What is an obelisk?

An Obelisk is an architectural element with four sides that end with a pyramid shaped top. Afterwards, texts and different carvings were added to the obelisk referring to the greatness and the achievements of the king who created it.

Then ancient Egyptian had many objectives in mind when he thought of creating obelisks that were first created in the reign of the New Kingdom. He wanted, first, to add a decoration item to the left or to the right of the entrance gates of many ancient Egyptian temples. Obelisks had another religious significance as the Pharaohs considered as the open link between earth and the gods in the sky. As far as the Old Kingdom, ancient Egyptians have established smaller obelisks for their gods. Moreover, obelisks were in fact created also to commemorate its owner and all his or her achievements.

Obelisks were usually made out of different types of rocks especially Red granite which are unearthed in Aswan. Some other obelisks were made out of quartz and basalt. Furthermore, not only kings built themselves obelisks in ancient Egypt, but also some common people constructed some obelisks for themselves and these were made out of sandstone.

The Construction of Obelisks

The first step of the process of the obelisks construction was to a mission from the royal palace of the king used to visit the quarries to choose the best substances and pieces of rocks available.

The second step was actually that the workers would cut the obelisk from its original rock from all the four sides using metal chisels. This step might have taken more than 9 months to be achieved according to the size of the obelisk.

No researcher or historian was actually able to know for sure how the ancient Egyptians were able to cut the part below the obelisk. Despite the theories that noted that the Pharaohs used pieces of wood that were soaked with water to achieve this, nobody has ever announced that he is quite sure about his theory.

The last step was to pull the obelisk to be in a standing position. Thousands of workers, bulls, and maybe other animals participated in that tiresome task that was quite critical as the failure meant the loss of months of work.

Obelisk, especially like these in the Temple of Karnak and the temple of Luxor , will always survive as evidences of how the ancient Egyptians were great builders who were always innovative. Their magnificence never failed to amaze the whole world until today especially tourists coming to enjoy their vacation in Egypt.

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