The Unfinished Obelisk in Aswan
The History of the Unfinished Obelisk
The Unfinished Obelisk is a huge Granite block in Aswan city, it could be traced back to the ruling era of the New Kingdom, and it remains unfinished in its original position in the Southern Aswan Granite quarry.
According to scientists, this enormous granite piece would have been the largest solid piece humans ever worked on, if it was completed. Weighing over 18 million kilogram, and its height is measuring up to about 134 meters if completely erected. It would have been the largest obelisk Pharaohs ever constructed. However, the obelisk was abandoned in its original location due to a defect discovered around the base during the construction process.
Tourists are usually taken to see the ‘unfinished obelisk’ that remains its position fixed to a side of the rock. A giant single piece of granite, located in the northern section of the quarries, was supposed to be an obelisk accredited to Queen Hatshepsut since it is quite similar to her obelisk at Temple of Karnak in Luxor. One could find exquisite sculptural reliefs in Deir el-Bahri temple of Hatshepsut, portraying the procedures of moving an obelisk from a place another.
The precious stones used in the building of Egypt’s monuments are gotten from ancient granite quarries located in the southern part of Aswan town.
The Techniques Behind Cutting Obelisks
In ancient times obelisks and other large stone objects were usually blocked out roughly before they left the quarry. There are several techniques suggested for the splitting of hard stone away from its surrounding rock. One method may have been to cut a groove along the line where the stone was to be detached and then to drive in wooden wedges that were soaked with water. The force of the swelling wood provides the force needed to split the granite – this approach was evidently used in Roman times.
Another way may have been using stone tools to carve a groove or a traditional saw used with an abrasive, which would then be heated with charcoal and then cooled with water, allowing the stone to break.
In view of the ancient Egyptians’ rudimentary soft-metal tools, the obelisk in the Northern Quarries give us an impressive feat of technology, and archeologists learned a great deal about the methods of stone cutting from the study of this abandoned structure and the tools left behind. It may appear that the stone, measuring 42 m in length and weighing about 1216 tonnes, formed a fault during quarrying and was never finished, abandoned for the next 3000 years to remained attached to the surface and has since been a tourist attraction.
For visitors interested in early innovations, the Northern Quarry is an interesting place to explore. It is known for manufacturing the granite used in the building of the Great Khufu Pyramid burial chamber, as well as some other pyramids casing stones. There are stamps of ancient stoneworkers on the Rock faces with several cut-marks or drawings by artists. These marks are so real such that one could think they are freshly inscribed by workmen that just left for home. Egypt has over 20 obelisks scattered over several places. This is in addition to a vast number of obelisks now found in several European cities such as Istanbul, Rome, London, and Paris. They took these obelisks to their homeland as ancient dynasties when they took control of the Nile.
The Unfinished Obelisk
The site is now remodeled and restored to provide large wooden walkways and stairs at each end of the unfinished obelisk between the several different levels of the quarry, with a decent viewing platform. The experience of the tourist is completed with a visitor center and an open-air museum where some artifacts are displayed for a memorable bazaar event.
Updated On April 30, 2020