Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Friday, March 11, 2005

My friend Michel van Rijn’s fascinating web site calls attention to the shocking decay and erosion suffered by New York City and London’s XVIII Dynasty pink Aswan granite Egyptian obelisks.
Popularly called Cleopatra’s Needle by residents of both cities, the ancient and valuable monuments first erected by Pharaoh Tuthmose III, while having no historic link to ancient Egypt’s most famous woman, have been fellow travelers with humanity throughout all Western history.

Eroded and covered in grime

The monuments vanishing Hieroglyphic inscriptions praise Tuthmose and commemorate his third sed festival or his 36th year of rule.
The London obelisk was erected at its present site on the Thames Embankment on September 12 or 13, 1878.

Bierstadt's Artotype of Central Park's Obelisk being removed from Egypt

The New York obelisk located in Central Park and just behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was laid in place on October 2, 1880.
The stories of these obelisks are quite fascinating and can be found here, here and here.
Mr. van Rijn should not be the only voice calling for the preservation and care of these travelers through human history.
I’m frankly surprised, with all the billions lavished on Middle Eastern PsyOp, that a clever person at State or Defense hasn’t latched onto the idea of preserving these monuments to Egyptian culture and symbols of the West as guardian.

William Evarts Maxwell

Mr. van Rijn is promising a detailed report on the Central Park Obelisk at some point in the future but, until then and barring any curatorial involvement by government, I think it would be wise to reflect upon the words of Rutherford B. Hayes’ Secretary of State William Maxwell Evarts presented at the New York monument’s February 12, 1881 opening ceremony:

"Who indeed can tell what our nation will do if any perversity is possible of realization; and yet this obelisk may ask us, 'Can you expect to flourish forever? Can you expect wealth to accumulate and man not decay? Can you think that the soft folds of luxury are to wrap themselves closer and closer around this nation and the pith and vigor of its manhood know no decay? Can it creep over you and yet the nation know no decrepitude?' These are questions that may be answered in the time of the obelisk but not in ours."

Images: Shoji Okamoto,,,
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Readers should note that open source not for profit private citizen blogging isn't constrained by the rules that govern for profit media.
Photos used in this space are, generally, smaller files than their originals.
Additionally, I always credit the source of the image...A courtesy, I've noted, that hasn't always been extended, by many, to my own original material.
Such is life.
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