Cleopatra’s Needle is the popular name for each of three Ancient Egyptian obelisks re-erected in London,Paris, and New York City during the nineteenth century. The London and New York ones are a pair, while the Paris one comes from a different original site where its twin remains. Although the needles are genuine Ancient Egyptian obelisks, they are somewhat misnamed as they have no particular connection with QueenCleopatra VII of Egypt, and were already over a thousand years old in her lifetime. The Paris “needle” was the first to be moved and re-erected, and the first to acquire the nickname.
Both examples are made of red granite, stand about 21 metres (68 ft) high, weigh about 224 tons and are inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphs. They were originally erected in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis on the orders of Thutmose III, around 1450 BC. The material of which they were cut is granite, brought from the quarries of Aswan, near the first cataract of the Nile. The inscriptions were added about 200 years later by Ramesses II to commemorate his military victories. The obelisks were moved to Alexandria and set up in the Caesareum — a temple built by Cleopatra in honor of Mark Antony — by the Romans in 12 BC, during the reign of Augustus, but were toppled some time later. This had the fortuitous effect of burying their faces and so preserving most of the hieroglyphs from the effects of weathering.
Egypt to Central Park: We Want Cleopatra Needle Back
The message delivered by Cairo was no Sphinx’s riddle. If New York doesn’t get its act together, it may have to kiss Cleopatra’s Needle goodbye.
Among the better known monuments in Gotham’s expansive Central Park is Cleopatra’s Needle. The 71-foot tall obelisk has owned the title as the the oldest man-made object in the Frederick Olmsted-designed park ever since 1881, when it was formally installed. A gift from Egypt to commemorate the opening of the Suez Canal, Cleopatra’s Needle has not been adequately maintained, according to Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass.