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Comparison Between Egyptian and French Obelisks

Criteria Egyptian Obelisks Obelisk of Arles
Images Egyptian Oblelisks Obelisk of Arles
Materials Obelisks were made from a single block of hard and durable granite rock Red granite from Asia minor
Shape - A monolithic stone with a quadrangular base, placed upright and ending with a pointed top
- The obelisk is composed of two parts:
  1. The body is a long block of a conic trunk section
  2. The pyramidon is top of the obelisk symbolized the rays of the sun, it had a pyramid formation and was plated in gold, a metal which the Egyptians believed was the skin of gods
Egyptians believed that solar rays had a vivifying power.
- The length varied from less than 1 meter to 30 meters
Strange shape with a thin top and a wide base
- Height: 15.78 meters
- Base diameter: 1.70 meters
- The point was topped with a bronze globe representing the sun, dotted with lotus flowers.
Function and Use
- Religious elements - Obelisks were symbols of the solar god Ra
- In the Architecture of temples they were placed in pairs, in front of entrance pylons and served to magically protect the temple
- A Decorative element - the obelisk was a landmark in the heart of the Roman circus
Historical Development - They arose, from the Pre-Dynastic Period, and were only fully developed during the New Kingdom, all ancient obelisks still in existence were erected during the New Kingdom and the Ptolemaic Period
- Erected under the Roman emperor Constantine in the 4th century in the center of the "spina" of the circus of Arles
Decorations - Inscriptions on all four sides of the body
- Parts of the pyramidon were carved with bas-relief
- The Roman obelisk is devoid of inscriptions
Historical heritage - There are only 26 Egyptian obelisks still remaining at present, 8 are in Egypt
  1. Senusret 1 12th Dynasty - The earliest temple obelisk still in its original position at Heliopolis - 20.7m high - 120 tons red granite
  2. Thutmose 1 18th Dynasty- Karnak Temple
  3. Hatshepsut 18th Dynasty - Karnak Temple
  4. Ramses 2 19th Dynasty - The twin obelisks erected to conmemorate the victory at the battle of Qadesh, in front of the Karnak temple - 22.5m high - 114 tons each
  5. Ramses 2 19th Dynasty - was originally erected in Tanis and transported to the actual place, Al Andalus Garden in Gezira Island, Cairo, in 1958 - 13.5m high
  6. Ramses 2 19th Dynasty - Cairo Airport
  7. Seti 2 19th Dynasty - Karnak Temple
  8. Ramses 3 20th Dynasty - Aswan
The rest were transported to Rome and other European cities in antiquity
- Abandoned and fell down in the 6th century.
- It was rediscovered in 1389, and Louis XIV placed at its present position in front of the town hall.

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Poll: Some scholars in Egypt demand the return of the Egyptian obelisks currently located in Europe and USA. What is your view on this case?

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By Ayman Fadl - Copyright © 2001-2014