Unfinished Obelisk

sights / Historic

Unfinished Obelisk information

Location
Aswan , Egypt
Prices
adult/student E£40/20
Opening hours
8am-5pm
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Aswan was the source of Egypt’s finest granite, the hard stone ancient Egyptians used to make statues, and to embellish temples, pyramids and obelisks. In the Northern Quarries , about 1.5km from town opposite the Fatimid Cemetery, is a huge discarded obelisk, which would have been the largest of all, but was abandoned before it was completely extracted.

Microbuses will drop you within a few minutes walk. Private taxis will charge about E£15.

The unfinished obelisk has given archaeologists valuable insights into how these monuments were created. Three sides of the shaft, which is nearly 42m long, were completed except for the inscriptions. At 1168 tonnes, the completed obelisk would have been the single heaviest piece of stone the Egyptians ever fashioned. A flaw appeared in the rock at a late stage in the process, however, so it lies where the disappointed stonemasons abandoned it, still partly attached to the parent rock.

Upon entering the quarry, steps lead down into the pit of the obelisk, where there are ancient pictographs of dolphins and ostriches or flamingos, thought to have been painted by workers at the quarry.