The unfinished obelisk found in Aswan (Assuan), Egypt, is one of the biggest ancient obelisks.

This impressive structure not only makes visitors stand in awe due to its gigantic size but also offers unusual insights into stone-working techniques developed by the ancient Egyptians.

Many other Obelisks can be found all over Egypt as well as in other countries. However, their function and purpose remain a mystery. This obelisk is situated in the northern region of the stone quarries of ancient Egypt. Its construction was ordered by the fifth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, Hatshepsut (1508–1458 BC).

One possible reason for this was to complement the Lateran Obelisk, originally located at Karnak, and later transferred to the Lateran Palace in Rome. Its extraordinary size is impressive: it is almost one third larger than any ancient Egyptian obelisk ever erected, and estimated to weigh around 1168 tons. It is also estimated that should it have been finished, it would have measured 42 m.

The unfinished obelisk in Aswan gives us valuable information on ancient Egyptian stone-working techniques. According to experienced engineers, there is indicative that the ancient Egyptians could have used advanced machinery.

Another theory, developed by researchers, supports that sound or some kind of sonic technology was used to quarry, cut, and levitate the stones used for the construction of the obelisk.

The creation of the obelisk started by carving it directly out of bedrock, where the bottom side of the obelisk is still attached. When cracks were seen in the granite, its creators abandoned their project. However, it is unknown why this construction was never again quarried or used in future projects.

English author Chris Dunn in his book “Advanced Technology in Ancient Egyptsuggests that the crack appeared later and the obelisk was left in this place long ‘before’ this incident happened. Moreover, it is worth mentioning what Klaus Schmidt stated:

In ancient Egypt, the dragging and erecting of holy pillars was an important part of ritual events”.

As a matter of fact, it was believed that obelisks were “charged” with special powers and no none should ever touch or use them again. This could be an explanation of the significance and the purpose of the construction of the obelisk in Aswan.

This amazing archaeological site and all the unfinished objects it contains are of great interest and officially protected by the Egyptian government. Other important discoveries are the partly worked unfinished obelisk base, some rock carvings, and remains at the quarries of Aswan.


  3. Image credit: Glenn Ashton/CC BY-SA

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Michael Gorman

    Certainly intriguing, how the heck would you drag something like that out of the quarry area and keep in in-tact? Let alone the precise carving of solid rock…more questions than answers!

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