How to Ship an Obelisk

how to ship an obelisk

In the 19th century Egyptian rulers gifted several large 1500BC obelisks to Paris, London and New York, all of which are still standing today. We already know how these things were erected, but how did they get there? The images above and below (from a 1878 article in the French magazine “La Nature”) show the vessel used for the transportation of the fragile 250 tonne heavy granite stone which is now in London.

A special vessel (the “Cleopatra”), was constructed around the obelisk, rolled into the sea, and then towed across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic to England. It sank on the way, but miraculously drifted to shore and was saved. The barge consisted of a steel cylinder enveloped in wood. The Americans, the French, and (much earlier) the Romans used different methods.

Cleopatra's needle figure 1

Cleopatra's needle fig 2