Cleopatra’s Needle

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newcastle
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Cleopatra’s Needle

Post by newcastle »

Cleopatra’s Needle being erected on the Embankment in1878.
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The obelisk was given to Great Britain in 1819 by Mohamed Ali but remained in Alexandria for over 50 years while GB dithered about the cost and practicalities of transporting it to U.K. it finally came in 1877.

The name is a bit of a misnomer. The obelisk was already 1000 years old during Cleopatra’s reign when she had it moved from Heliopolis, where it was originally erected by Tuthmosis III, to Alexandria.

As usual, it was one of a pair, its sibling currently residing in Central Park, NewYork.
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Re: Cleopatra’s Needle

Post by Grandad »

What an amazing picture Newcastle. Never seen that one before and just look at the size of those timbers. Thanks for posting it. :up
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Re: Cleopatra’s Needle

Post by A-Four »

During a visit to the U.K a couple of years ago, I remember a comment Zahi Hawass made at a press conference with regards the obelisk on the Thames embankment, basically stating that if we did not clean up the monument and removed the trees around it, then it might as well be returned to Egypt, further to that, he could not understand why it was positioned there in the first place. In a visit to New York in 2014 he made a similar comment about the slightly smaller obolisk in Central Park, needless to say, neither government responded.

I can not comment on the New York obolisk, but I certainly can on the one here. After the so called 'great stink' from the river Thames, a man called Joseph Bazalgette was asked by government to create a world class sewage system, in doing so he created the wonderful Victoria Embankment Gardens, that stretched along the embankment up to the Houses of Parliament, which became very successful as a riverside corniche, where people would promenade rather than pay a penny to enter the Royal parks.

When the government finally decided to place this object, three places were chosen almost immediately outside Westminster Hall or St James Park. Being that the park is Royal grounds, it was privately understood that Queen Victoria although tolerant of other faith was not too amused about such obolisks appearing in a number of London cemeteries. (You only have to look at the 'tomb' of Hannah Courtoy in Brompton Cemetary to see how bizarre things were getting) The position at Parliament Square was rejected because the new underground District Line required the 200 ton item to be fully insured against collapsing into the tunnel.

It's final resting place became where it is today. It was at that time a very popular site to visit, infact tourist boats disembarked on either side of this great monument and then would walk along the beautiful gardens all the way to Westminter Bridge. Like today the gardens are littered with statues and busts of the good and famous of the era. One curious item to look out for is a memorial to the Imperial Camel Corps. The probable reason why it became known as Cleopatra's Neddle being that while the obelisk was held on the Thames by a boat called the Cleopatra six of the crew were killed during a storm. Of the two large bronze Sphinx either side of the obolisk, the one to the west was damaged from shrapnel during a bomb raid during the Second World War, so many believe, infact the damage occurred during the very first air raid on London at the very start of the Great War, ( First World War ).

For,.......Grandad. Welcome back to the site, hope you remain on here longer than you did before. :wi .

P.S. Should you ever find yourself in that area, there is a very secret place very near on Savoy Hill, it is what we call a Royal Peculiar called the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, fascinating place, and a dream of a place to visit.

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Re: Cleopatra’s Needle

Post by newcastle »

I must thank A-Four for his additional tidbits on Cleopatra’s Needle.

I recall the names of the six unfortunates who drowned are inscribed on bronze plaques at the base of the obelisk.

On erection of the obelisk in 1878, a time capsule was concealed in the front part of the pedestal containing an eclectic array of memorabilia the oddest of which must be a set of 12 photographs of the best-looking English women of the day! :lol:

I should correct my earlier post....the Needles came to Alexandria courtesy of the Emperor Augustus some years after Cleopatra’s death. Alexandria was, of course, the city of Cleopatra...hence the names given to the obelisk. Nothing to do with the eponymous boat specially constructed to bring one to London.

Its pair in New York is similarly named.

In fact the term was in use well before the obelisks left Egypt. In 1869 Mark Twain mentioned them by name in his book The Innocents Abroad which details his trip to , amongst other places, Alexandria. Augustus had the two obelisks erected outside the Caesarium and this, together with the continuing affection of the city’s inhabitants for their former queen, probably led to them being labelled as Cleopatra’s Needles from antiquity.

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Re: Cleopatra’s Needle

Post by Grandad »

Thank you for the 'Welcome Back' A Four :up
"Welcome Back" eh! ? How many times have I heard that from Salah at the entrance to the Nile Palace. Happy memories....
But to return to Egyptian Obelisks, it would seem that they had plenty of spares and were happy to give them away. This is a snap that I took of the one in Istanbul.
If Hawass doesn't like trees around his precious monuments, I bet he doesn't like this one. ;)
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Re: Cleopatra’s Needle

Post by Grandad »

Oh, and here's another one I snapped, Place de la Concorde, Paris. Do they still have some tucked away? Does anyone have one in their back garden? ;)
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Grandad :gg:

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Re: Cleopatra’s Needle

Post by newcastle »

Grandad wrote:
Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:27 pm
Oh, and here's another one I snapped, Place de la Concorde, Paris. Do they still have some tucked away? Does anyone have one in their back garden? ;)
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Indeed they do!

William Bankes acquired a Ptolemaic obelisk from Philae in 1830. The famous Belzoni got it back to Bankes’ estate at Compton Lacey where is still stands.

The obelisk in Place de la Concorde is the twin of that remaining at the entrance to Luxor Temple...Ramesses II. Given to France by Mohamed Ali in the early 19th century. Apparently, France gave Egypt a clock in return which has never worked. :lol: Mohamed Ali didn’t seem to value Egypt’s heritage as much as Hawass...indeed, not only obelisks but much of the Great pyramid casing disappeared during his reign. Perhaps because he was Macedonian rather than Egyptian!

The Istanbul obelisk is another of Tuthmosis III....originally at Karnak and eventually takenby the emperor Theodosius around 390 AD. Its twin is the famous Lateran obelisk in Rome.

There are far smore (60+) obelisks scattered around the world than the 13 currently remaining in Egypt.

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Re: Cleopatra’s Needle

Post by Grandad »

@newcastle In all of our trips, at least twenty, to Egypt we enjoyed visiting all of the sites but never really got into the bigger story. It was just SO fascinating to be there. We really enjoyed the people and formed a number of friendships which made revisiting all the more enjoyable.

But, other forum members like yourself are obviously so much better informed about the detailed history so I am glad that I came back over to the blue side to catch up on what's happening over here.
Thanks for all the info Newcastle, maybe one day they will finish that 'unfinished obelisk' at Aswan :up
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Re: Cleopatra’s Needle

Post by BBLUX »

1214EdWimborne_KL_Kingston-Lacy2-cNational-Trust-Images-Pete-Vines.jpg
Just remembered that there is also an obelisk originally from Philae at Kingston Lacy House in Dorset.
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Re: Cleopatra’s Needle

Post by newcastle »

BBLUX wrote:
Sat Oct 17, 2020 5:33 pm
Just remembered that there is also an obelisk originally from Philae at Kingston Lacy House in Dorset.
Oops! :oops: That reminds me of the unfortunate error in my earlier post which should have read William Bankes’ estate at KINGSTON LACEY.....not Compton Lacey.

Can’t think how I managed to muddle the name...except I had been researching English garden obelisks as raised by Grandad. :lol:

There is an obelisk in the grounds of COMPTON Verney House.....a replica of the Lateran obelisk in Rome. Obviously a scaled down model.....and fabricated out of Cornish granite. Nothing Egyptian about it.
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Re: Cleopatra’s Needle

Post by BBLUX »

Newcastle, If I had read your earlier post a little more carefully I would have realised that I was talking about the same location as you when you mentioned the Bankes family. Anyway we are sorted now!
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Re: Cleopatra’s Needle

Post by Who2 »

Before hitting The Eagle for a B.Mary & a pint walked down to the embankment just for you lot,
and my constitution...
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Mind you, the seats on the embankment are quite beautiful.
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Also took a few pics on my return journey..... 8)
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Re: Cleopatra’s Needle

Post by newcastle »

0F0C79FA-25E6-415D-B1EE-60A88D4770D2.jpeg
The pedant’s revolt........ :lol:

I’m not sure it was correct of the plaque to say the obelisk was moved to Alexandria during the Greek dynasty.

I think it was transported from Heliopolis on the orders of the emperor Augustus after the demise of the Greek dynasty which ended with Cleopatra in 30BC.

Cleopatra may have intended to adorn the Caesareum she was constructing with the obelisks but I can find no evidence that she did so - or had the obelisks transported in readiness. The records seem to indicate that the unfinished building was completed by Augustus and dedicated to him rather than, as intended by Cleopatra, her former lover Julius Caesar
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