There was an interesting story on The Internets yesterday about the Egyptian obelisk which stands in Central Park.
The article read in part:
Recently, Zahi Hawass (the secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities) wrote to the Central Park Conservancy and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to inform them that if steps are not taken to protect the obelisk, it would be removed.
“I am glad that this monument has become such an integral part of New York City, but I am dismayed at the lack of care and attention that it has been given,” Hawass wrote. “Recent photographs that I have received show the severe damage that has been done to the obelisk, particularly to the hieroglyphic text, which in places has been completely worn away. I have a duty to protect all Egyptian monuments whether they are inside or outside of Egypt. If the Central Park Conservancy and the City of New York cannot properly care for this obelisk, I will take the necessary steps to bring this precious artifact home and save it from ruin.”
The obelisk was originally one of a pair — the other currently resides in London — built around 1500 B.C. to honor Pharaoh Thutmose III.
In 1869, to commemorate the opening of the Suez Canal, the Khedive of Egypt, Ismail Pasha, gave the United States the obelisk that now sits in Central Park.
U.S. Navy Lieutenant-Commander Henry H. Gorringe was charged with the task of transporting the 71-foot (21 meter), 224-ton obelisk from Alexandria to New York City. The project was funded by William H. Vanderbilt, at the cost of $102,576, according to TravellersinEgypt.com. When the obelisk finally reached the shores of the Hudson, there were still 112 days left in its journey to its current location.
Gorringe had to build a track to transport the obelisk on land to Central Park (the obelisk moved about 100 feet per day across 96th Street to Broadway, south to 86th St., and east toward the park), then raise the monument into its assigned location, according to Archaeology Magazine. The obelisk was erected in January 1881 in Central Park.
Hubby and I have admired this obelisk many times. In fact, we saw it recently and commented on the etchings. The above picture I took in 2006. I need to go back and take another picture now to see if there’s detectable change.
A spokesperson in NYC responded in the article, which said:
A statement from Jonathan Kuhn, director of Art and Antiquities for the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation states: “We have been working in recent years with the Metropolitan Museum and the Central Park Conservancy to further analyze the condition of the obelisk and monitor its condition. There is no evidence at this point of any significant ongoing erosion.”
This brought up an interesting dialog between hubby and me; should the obelisk be relocated in the Metropolitan Museum, where it could be protected from the weather and touching hands? Or, should it stay where it is in Central Park, completely unprotected?
What do you think?