The Pharaonic obelisks are among the most important archaeological elements left by the ancient Egyptians, although there were many of them in ancient Egyptian times, only a few remained, and the obelisks are still considered as a mystery to the world and archaeologists until now.
Ancient Pharaonic obelisks
The ancient Egyptians, in a way that is still unknown until now, were carving obelisks as one piece of red granite quarries, which is a four-sided column with a wide base that narrows as it gets higher, so that the obelisk ends in a pyramidal shape at its top, and they used to carve their names and titles in hieroglyphics on it.
These obelisks were abundant in ancient times, as King Ramses II alone had about 14 obelisks, but they were destroyed, and one of the historians said when he visited Egypt in the thirteenth century AD that when he visited Egypt, he saw two standing obelisks in the Heliopolis area and a number of other broken obelisks, but now only one of them remains.
The benefit of obelisks
Obelisks among the ancient Egyptians had many benefits, the first of which was that they were built to symbolize the worship of the sun and the sanctity of the god Ra, in addition to perpetuating the names and titles of kings, as they were placed on the doors of temples, and some scholars believed that they were a symbol of the eternal hill on which the god Atum was standing during the creation of the world, but much remains unknown about it until now.
Due to the accuracy of carving these obelisks in this genius way and transporting them over long distances, in addition to the interest in covering their tops with precious metals, they hold great importance. In some modern interpretations, they believed due to the fact that it was carved from red granite that consists of the quartz element and because it was one piece, and the quartz element with pressure emits electrical charges, just as the obelisk of King Thutmose III in the Lateran Square in Italy has been written on it in hieroglyphics “its top is made of gold and Waset was lit by its beauty”, Waset is Luxor currently, so perhaps they were benefiting from it in lighting cities and temples, and not only in order to perpetuate names.
Locations of some obelisks
The obelisks, because of the genius of their sculpture and the difficulty of interpreting it for scholars, represented the covetousness of many countries, to the extent it was presented in the fields of Europe, and the Romans transferred to Rome a number of Egyptian obelisks until it came to the point that the Pharaonic obelisks that they possess are more than those that still exist in Egypt, despite how difficult and extremely high transportation costs are.
In the Byzantine era, an obelisk was moved from Karnak Temple to Turkey, specifically Istanbul, this obelisk was approximately 30 meters long, but with transportation problems, it reached Istanbul, losing 11 meters, meaning that it became only 19 meters.
There is an obelisk belonging to King Amenemhet II, it was 25 meters long and weighed 330 tons. It was transported to Europe to settle in the garden of Emperor Caligula, but in 1500 AD, with the establishment of the Church in Europe, Pope Sixtus V ordered to move it to the Vatican Square, and the transfer procedures lasted about 13 months, so that they could move it only 200 meters away.
There is a sandstone obelisk with the cartouches of King Seti I at the Karnak Temple, about 3 meters long.
There is also an obelisk of Queen Hatshepsut at the Karnak Temple, next to the sacred lake, on which a text was carved saying that it took them seven months to carve this obelisk from the mountain. This obelisk is extended without fixing its base to the ground, and the remaining part of it reaches a length of 9.4 meters and weighs up to 65 tons.
When Muhammad Ali Pasha took over the rule of Egypt, who gave away a lot of Egyptian antiquities because he was a foreigner, as he gifted many obelisks to England and France, Britain submitted a request to him, so he sent the obelisk of King Thutmose III to Britain, this obelisk was located in Alexandria, and because of its exorbitant transportation costs, it remained stable in its place for 50 years, until a wealthy person in Britain financed the transportation process, and because of the difficulty of this transfer process, six people died, whose names are written on the base of the obelisk.
One of the most important obelisks that must be mentioned is the “Unfinished Obelisk”, which still exists in the place of its extraction from one of the red granite quarries in Aswan. This obelisk is considered the largest in the Egyptian civilization, reaching a length of 41.7 meters and weighing 1,168 tons, it is believed that its extraction was stopped due to the presence of some cracks in it.
Carving simulation experiments
Red granite is one of the hardest types of stones, as it cannot be easily carved because it contains quartz. In 1812, the German scientist Friedrich Mohs created a scale in his name to classify minerals according to their hardness (hardness means the extent of the metal’s resistance to scratching). The principle of this scale is that it is not possible to carve a material with another less than it in the degree of hardness, according to this scale, the only element capable of urging granite is diamond, but it was not discovered at the time.
In 1995, the Nova Team, which consisted of a group of engineers, experts, and workers, attempted to prove that the ancient Egyptians carried out these sculpting and lifting operations with primitive tools, and relied in their experience on one of the owners of the company who had long experience in dealing with granite and his name was “Roger Hopkins”, who used the bronze element in carving red granite, but it was a total failure, until they realized that it was impossible.
The British antiquities supervisor in the Upper Egypt region in the early twentieth century, called “Reginald Engelbach,” made many studies on the missing obelisk, and he wrote these studies in his book “The Problem of Obelisks”, through which, he tried to answer some questions by doing a carving experiment that took him an hour by hitting a square with a side length of 30 cm from red granite stone with another specific stone, and during this hour, he was able to remove only 5 millimeters of stone. As a result of this experiment, the complete carving of an obelisk may require 130 workers in a period of up to 7 months.
Because of this previous experience, the Nova team did it again for the purpose of verification, but their results reached a carving of only 0.8 millimeters, which requires nine years to carve an obelisk, others did the same experiment, and their results were close to the results of the Nova team, which ruled out the validity of the experiment and results of “Reginald Engelbach” and made it questionable.
So far, no experiment has succeeded in carving an obelisk with the same standards as the Pharaonic obelisks, which proves the extent of the knowledge, genius and development of these pharaohs, and that despite the extent of development and knowledge that currently exists, we have not been able to discover many of their mysteries and their ability to make these monuments in this genius way, not only the method of making these obelisks or something similar, but there are also questions about how to carve them inside the quarries and move them to their places without any problem.
In addition to the accuracy of the sculpture and the proportionality of the measurements, sides and angles, which proves that these obelisks were not carved in a random manner, but rather with ingenious geometric measurements, from the base of the obelisk to its pointed hierarchical top, and the extent of their confidence in this accuracy, which made them place the obelisks standing without having anything to fix them in the ground, which indicates the extent of their confidence in their geometric measurements and the accuracy of their carving.