Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cleopatra's Needle

Location:   Midtown Manhattan
Year:   1881

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 first Needle was erected in Paris, and is one of a set of two, the other remaining in Luxor. It was the earliest of the three to reach a world capital. Shortly after, British pride demanded a Needle in London, and an obelisk was acquired from the ancient site of Heliopolis. 

Not long after the British made plans to re-erect the obelisk in London, there was an outcry in print in the United States for an obelisk. If Paris had one and London was to get one, why should not New York get one?

In response, the twin of the London obelisk was shipped to New York in 1881, and was erected in Central Park just west of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was presented as a "gift" to America from Egypt, though in truth much political arm-twisting was involved and Egypt occasionally makes formal objections as to the status of the monuments.

Although all three needles are genuine, their shared nickname is a misnomer, as they have no connection with Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt, and were already over a thousand years old in her lifetime. The London and New York "needles" were originally made during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III c. 1450 B.C.. The Paris "needle" dates to the reign of Ramses II. Both the London and New York Needles are made of red granite, stand about 69 feet high, weigh about 224 tons each and are inscribed with hieroglyphs.

No comments:

Post a Comment