MYSTICS & MYSTERIES: Obelisks and what they Represent

Obelisks are tall, four-sided, and narrow tapered monuments with pyramidions on top. They were called tekhenu by builders in Ancient Egypt. Other than Ancient Egypt, the obelisks were developed and mounted in Assyria, Ancient Rome, Lebanon, Ethiopia in the Axumite Kingdom), and Turkey. Predominantly, the Ancient Egyptians are known to have influenced their construction and popularity in ancient times. Some of the popular locations where the obelisks are found include Hippodrome (Sultan Ahmet Park) in Instanbul, Piazza San Pietro in the Vatican City, Piazza del Popolo in Rome, Place de la Concorde in Paris, among other locations. The world’s tallest obelisk is a predominant stone structure standing 169. 046m tall located east of the Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. it is made of marble, granite and blue stone gneiss. It is popularly referred to as the Washington Monument.

The Ancient Obelisks

These monuments were monoliths and were made from one stone. Their origin could be traced back to Ancient Egypt, where they were a vital part of their architecture and religion. They were majorly located at entrances of temples, usually in pairs. Mounted back in time, the Obelisk of Sanusret is the oldest known structure in the world. It weighs 120 tonnes and is 20.7m in height. The monument is located in Al-Matarriyah, in the modern Heliopolis. Such monuments had a religious significance and were closely connected to the pyramids. It is established that they symbolized Ra, the Sun-god. During the Akhenaten, a religious reformation, the Obelisk is said to have petrified the ray of Aten, the sun-disk.

Historians have established that the Romans, during their reign after conquering Egypt seized and shipped out the obelisks to various locations, back in 30 BC. Over the next 1,700 years, many of the obelisks have been dismantled and taken to various part of the world. The monuments are precious artifacts that would attract interest, because of their structure, construction and symbolism. Currently, only 8 remain standing in Egypt, with the Ancient Romans having populated their cities with 8 large and 42 small obelisks sourced from Egypt. A reliable source provided well-researched work on the ancient monuments and documented that Egypt has a total of 33 obelisks on various sites. Italy, which under the Roman rule exploited ancient Egypt, boasts of 20 of the monoliths. Vatican City at St. Petersburg has 1 whereas France has 2 obelisks. The UK has 6 of them, whereas Germany, Poland, Israel and Turkey have a piece each. Lebanon and the US have 2 each. 


The imposing Washington Monument, the tallest Obelisk in the world (Picture: Courtesy)

These monuments are work of art, a marvel that is as hard to build as they are mysterious. Made from granite, they had no joints in them, hence called monoliths. The vertical columns taper as they rise, a clear marvel of art considering the ancient periods they were constructed. They were topped with gold or electrum to catch sunlight in the morning. With some as old as over 3,300 years old, they had hieroglyphics inscribed on their sides, all which had their own stories en-wrapped in the mystical symbols. The Washington Monument dwarfs all other existing obelisks and holds up its mysterious secrets aloof in majestic silence among the memorials in Washington, D.C.

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