The Unfinished Obelisk

The Unfinished Obelisk in Aswan

The Unfinished Obelisk in Aswan is one of the most fascinating archaeological finds in Egypt. Located in the famous granite quarries of southern Aswan, it provides invaluable insight into the stone-working techniques of ancient Egypt.

Elevated view of the Unfinished Obelisk at the quarries of Aswan under a dusty sky.
A stone giant's slumber in Aswan's quarries.

Key Aspects of the Unfinished Obelisk:

  1. Historical Context: The obelisk dates back to the New Kingdom period and is attributed to the era of Queen Hatshepsut, although it remains unfinished.

  2. Size and Significance: Had it been completed, the obelisk would have stood about 134 meters high and weighed over 1,200 tons, making it the largest piece of stone ever quarried and fashioned in ancient Egypt.
  3. Reason for Abandonment: The obelisk was abandoned due to a significant flaw discovered in the granite, rendering the project impractical to continue.
  4. Construction Techniques: The Unfinished Obelisk offers a rare glimpse into the construction techniques of ancient Egyptians. It is believed that workers used a combination of grooves and wooden wedges, possibly soaked in water, to split the granite. This technique, coupled with the use of stone and abrasive tools, exemplifies the ingenuity of ancient stoneworkers.
  5. Tourist Attraction: Today, the site of the Unfinished Obelisk is a popular tourist destination. Renovations have made the site more accessible and visitor-friendly, with walkways and stairs facilitating better viewing. An open-air museum and a visitor center enhance the tourist experience.
  6. Cultural Importance: The Unfinished Obelisk is not just an archaeological treasure but also a cultural symbol. It reflects the ambition and skill of the ancient Egyptians in monument construction. Its links to Queen Hatshepsut, one of the most famous female pharaohs, add to its historical value.
  7. Preservation and Display: The site has been carefully preserved to maintain its historical integrity. The obelisk remains in situ, attached to the bedrock, allowing visitors to appreciate the scale and ambition of this ancient project.

Aerial view of the Unfinished Obelisk lying in its quarry in Aswan, Egypt.
The Unfinished Obelisk of Aswan, a testament to ancient ambition.

In summary, the Unfinished Obelisk in Aswan is a monumental testament to ancient Egyptian engineering and craftsmanship. Its unfinished state provides a unique window into the construction methods of the time and remains a compelling attraction for those interested in Egyptology and ancient history.

Created On April 22, 2020

Updated On January 26, 2024

ASWAN Travel Guide
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Tourists admiring the colossal statues at Abu Simbel temple in Egypt
Visitors at the feet of history: The awe-inspiring Abu Simbel

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