While people know Egypt for the pyramids and the sphinx, there is another wonder of the world that isn’t very famous but equally spectacular. Behold, the unfinished Obelisk in Aswan in Egypt which is an astonishing testimony of the building methods of these monolithic monuments.
The pyramids were designed to measure 137 feet (42 meters) if they would have been completed. Even the incomplete version weighs around 1,200 tons! The monument depicts female pharaoh Hatshepsut who began the project during the 18th dynasty, over 3,500 years ago.
As My Modern MET narrates,
“Just what are obelisks? These four-sided, tapered monuments were called tekhenu by the Ancient Egyptians, but we now know them as obelisks—taken from the Greek word obeliskos.”
“Typically placed at the entrances of temples, they are the hallmark of Ancient Egyptian ingenuity and engineering. So beloved by successive civilizations, more than half of the remaining ancient obelisks actually reside outside of Egypt, having been especially prized by the Romans. In fact, 13 are located in Italy.”
What led to the project’s demise and abandonment? It is said that the project heads got a little too ambitious and wanted to build an obelisk 1/3 times larger than any other version. But the ambition proved to be much high than the one that could be fulfilled, as it led to a huge crack appearing in the edrock, leading the project to go into limbo.
Now the mega structure works like an open-air museum that provides a first-hand insight into the grand construction techniques used in the Ancient Egypt. Back then, carving monuments directly in the bedrock was a common construction technique as the mason used stone balls to pound and smash out any irregularities and smooth out the surface. Some of these heavy-weight Dolerite balls can still be seen on-site as Aswan. Dolerite is considered to be harder than granite that would not crack or break even at the highest of impacts.
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