Ancient Egypt obelisk is one of the most prominent elements of the ancient Egyptian art.
In the capitals of the countries in all over the world, you can see a tall, thin, and inscribed building that looks like the needle; this is what we call it the obelisk.
The obelisk in ancient Egyptian civilization was called “tḫn” and the Arab when they entered Egypt, called it “Masallah”.
The ancient Egypt obelisk is a granite architect element piece which was fixed to the land, it consists of four sides and it at the end of it you can see a pyramidal top.
The obelisk of ancient Egypt is decorated with a number of baboons; those baboons are worshiping the sun. The inscriptions of the obelisk talk about the pharaoh and the god who the obelisk was dedicated to him.
This architectural element located on the right and left of the temple and it overlooks the sky to reach between it and the land.
Besides its artistic significance, the ancient Egypt obelisk has a religious significance also; as it was considered the earliest sacred symbols which introduced by the ancient Egyptians.
The ancient Egyptians have introduced this type of art to worship god Re. They lived in Heliopolis and built these obelisks to connect between them and the god, then the obelisks in Egyptian civilization were innovated to have this four sides and the pyramidal top (this pyramidal top is called “Ben Ben”).
The religious significance of obelisks
Some scholars said that the ancient Egyptian obelisk was the symbol of sun rises which reflected on the Earth through its pyramidal top like the pyramid texts have mentioned.
While other scholars said that the obelisk had the same role of the pyramid; as it was considered a symbolic tomb because the top of the obelisk was the primeval hill where the creation has started.
Some scholars have suggested that the symbol Ben Ben was the penis of god Atom, from which the stone-sperm has emerged and went to the primeval ocean.
Other scholars have suggested that the ancient Egypt obelisk was symbolizing to the conical stone which was above the primeval hill; god Atom was above this stone which he came out for the first time in the shape of the Phoenix.
There was also a connection between the obelisk and the moon; as the myth of god Osiris has mentioned that the moon became complete after 14 days and those days referred to the 14 parts of god Osiris’s body, the crescent referred to the leg of Osiris and god Khonsu, the moon god, was protecting the obelisk.
The history of ancient Egyptian obelisks
It seems that the appearing of ancient Egypt obelisk has coincided with the appearing of sun doctrine in Heliopolis, but we did not find any obelisks before the 5th dynasty until now.
The obelisks were an integral part of the sun temples and we have found many obelisks in the temples locate at Abusir.
In the New Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians were building two obelisks for each god and this custom lasted until the Greco-Roman period.
Among the most famous two obelisks, the obelisks which were built inside the red chapel of Queen Hatshepsut, one of these obelisks are still found and its height is about 33.20m, while the other one was destroyed.
Some ancient Egyptian obelisks became out Egypt
The transferring of obelisks started Before Christ. A lot of sources have mentioned that the Assyrian king “Baneeb” after conquering Egypt in 665 BC., he transferred two bronze obelisks to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria.
The Romans also transferred a number of obelisks to their capital. There are two obelisks in London and New York which date back to the era of king Thutmose III and another obelisk for Queen Cleopatra.
The height of London obelisk is about 20.78m, it weighs about 187 tons, and it was dedicated by Mohamed Ali Pasha to Britain in 1831.
There are four obelisks of ancient Egypt in Paris date back to the era of king Ramses II; one of them was built in front of Luxor temple and it was transferred by the French soldiers in 1833.
A number of obelisks were transferred to Italy; among them the obelisk of king Thutmose IV, its height is 30.70m and it was transferred to Alexandria in 33 AD, then Byzantium, and at the end, it was moved to be in front of Saint Giovanni church in Rome.
The Vatican ancient Egypt obelisk of King Amenhotep II, its height is 25.5m and it locates in the yard of Saint Boutros, it was moved from Heliopolis to Rome and then the Vatican.
Read also: The ancient Egyptian temple and its components.