Ancient Egypt and Archaeology Web Site

Obelisk in London, victoria embankment, thutmose III, cleopatra's needle

Cleopatra's needle

Cleopatra's needle is on the Thames side of the Victoria Embankment in London and used to be a little 'undiscovered'.  However, the London site seeing buses now stop by the monument are also the river cruise boats.

The needle is guarded by two sphinxes, which are facing the wrong way (Queen Victoria  said she liked them that way).

The 60 foot, 180-ton granite column as totally un-associated with Cleopatra VII.  It was originally one of a pair erected in Heliopolis in 1754 BC for Thutmose III and taken to Alexandria by Emperor Augustus 15 years after Cleopatra's death.  The second obelisk is in New York's Central Park, close to the Metropolitan Museum.

The Obelisk was presented to Britain in 1819 by the Turkish viceroy of Egypt, and it took nearly 60 years before it made its way to London.  it was erected in 1878 above a time capsule which contained, with other things, a day's newspaper, a box of hairpins and railway timetable and pictures of the country's 12 prettiest women.

One of the sphinx was damaged by a bomb dropped during the 1st bomber raid on London in 1917. The carving of the hieroglyphics had been sharp when it was moved to New York but the northern climate has significantly eroded the carving.

America had been offered the obelisk's pair in 1869 and it wad re-located and erected in 1881 in Central Park, not far from the Metropolitan Museum.


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