Friday, August 9, 2013

The Central Park Obelisk

Figure 1 - Obelisk of Tuthmose III in Central Park
There are any number of Egyptian obelisks scattered throughout the world. One of them is in Central Park. Sadly, time has not been kind to it, but I will get to that.

     The obelisk in Central Park, as I mentioned in a post in May of this year, is located near the Metropolitan Museum and was originally erected by Tuthmose III in Heliopolis. It was moved, along with its twin, to Alexandria during the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus. One of these obelisks was later moved to London and set up on the banks of the Thames, while the other was moved, in 1880, to New York City.

     The inscriptions on these obelisks are rather unenlightening. All of them, both those of Tuthmose III and those of Ramesses II, give a seemingly endless list of names and titles that tell us nothing of any great importance.

Figure 2 - Heavy Damage to the Inscriptions
     There is a picture of the obelisk being set up in Central Park in Budge's book Egyptian Obelisks; the picture shows the inscriptions to be in excellent condition. Contrast that picture with figure 2 and you can see how badly the New York weather has harmed the obelisk. The pictures here were taken about twenty years ago, so the damage is certainly even worse now. Will all of the inscriptions be destroyed in my lifetime? Sadly, that may very well happen.

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