Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities is taking a decidedly unfavorable view towards the Big Apple concerning a Central Park monument. Cleopatra’s Needle, that Pharaonic obelisk of ancient times, is assuming the disrepair of present days; in fact, it’s going Ratso Rizzo on us.
While restorative work is, more or less, occurring all over town, the current series of restorations have apparently failed to reach the obelisk. This has the Council mad as hell and they’re threatening to take Cleopatra’s Needle back to the Land of the Pharaohs.
Mayor (and, sometimes, Pharaoh in his own right) Michael Bloomberg received this warm, ultimatum-charged message from Supreme Council Secretary General Zahi Hawass:
“I’m glad that this monument has become such an integral part of New York City, but I am dismayed at the lack of care and attention that it has been given,” Hawass wrote. “Recent photographs that I have received show the severe damage that has been done to the obelisk, particularly to the hieroglyphic text, which in places has been completely worn away. I have a duty to protect all Egyptian monuments whether they are inside or outside of Egypt. If the Central Park Conservancy and the City of New York cannot properly care for this obelisk, I will take the necessary steps to bring this precious artifact home and save it from ruin.”
The 71-foot (21 meter), 224-ton obelisk, one of a pair (the other is now in London), was built to honor Pharaoh Thutmose III (circa 1500 B.C.) and stood in the ancient city of Heliopolis in Egypt. In 18 A.D., the Romans took possession of the obelisks and placed them at the entrance to the Ceasarium in Alexandria. There they stood until 1869 when the Khedive of Egypt, Ismail Pasha, to commemorate the opening of the Suez Canal and to cultivate mutual trade between both countries, presented the United States with the Central Park obelisk; it was unveiled in the park in 1881 and was soon dubbed “Cleopatra’s Needle.”
Now I wonder if the French are having any misgivings about the Statue of Liberty. Be that as it may, I say to any country that is threatening to take their stuff back: You’re paying for your own return shipping and handling!
Source: Live Science
Note: This post was originally published in 2011, when Hosni Mubarak ruled Egypt with an iron ego. Now that that nation has replaced tyranny with anarchy, I suspect that they’ve lost interest in the like of neglected obelisks in Central Park. In fact, Cleopatra’s Needle is now looking quite well for its age. Egypt, on the other hand, er…not quite so well.
- Zahi Hawass tells New York City: fix Cleopatra’s Needle or give it back (gadling.com)
- Egypt to New York: Protect Ancient Obelisk or Else (cbsnews.com)
- Egypt Threatens Removal of Ancient Central Park Obelisk (livescience.com)
- Tracing Obelisk Weathering with Old Photos (biblicalpaths.wordpress.com)