Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Weird. Now I want a closer look.

The obelisk was originally erected at Heliopolis, Egypt, by an unknown pharaoh.

The Emperor Augustus had the obelisk moved to the Julian Forum of Alexandria, where it stood until AD 37, when Caligula ordered the forum demolished and the obelisk transferred to Rome.

It is the only one devoid of hieroglyphics, but with Latin inscriptions. Pliny the Elder wrote about it in his Naturalis Historia (1st century AD). It was brought from Egypt by Caligula, on a ship filled with lentils to prevent any damage and raised in the Spina of his Circus, then called Nero's Circus. After the voyage the ship was filled with pozzolana and sunk so as to be used as the base for the left pier of Claudius' harbour, at the mouth of the Tiber.
Sixtus V ordered it moved to the center of the square, putting Domenico Fontana in charge of the operation. Solid foundations were built to support the heavy structure and on April 30, 1586 the operations started - 907 men, 75 horses and 40 cranes were required. The obelisk was raised into position on September 10, six days later it was placed on the base and on September 26 it was blessed and consecrated.

1 comment:

  1. Wife and I were in Rome 2 years ago and the Egyptian Obelisks are quite spectacular.

    There are actually 8 of them, not just the one in St Peter's, and ancient Roman Obelisks as well. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_obelisks_in_Rome#Ancient_Egyptian_obelisks

    We were there for nearly a month and barely scratched the surface of the history of the place. There are ancient objects, buildings and sights everywhere, many of them in no guide book or web-site I have ever found. Some of them are beat up and falling to pieces because Italy just cannot preserve everything.

    We're going back in September.