The magnificent Unfinished Obelisk is one of the most spectacular monoliths of Aswan. It serves as a living proof of the unrivaled skills and intelligence of ancient Egyptians who wanted to build a gigantic tale from stone. Undoubtedly, the Unfinished Obelisk is the largest obelisk ever made, but it was not finished unfortunately.
As the implies, the Unfinished Obelisk, which would have been the largest and heaviest single stone monument made by the Egyptians, was never finished. They were able to complete three sides of the gigantic shaft. However, the masons stopped working and abandoned the monument when they noticed a crack on the granite. Half of the structure is still attached to the rock layer from which it was being carved.
About the Unfinished Obelisk
The construction of the Unfinished Obelisk is very unique. It was designed with the Greek-style of architecture, with four different sides coming together to form a mini pyramidal shape. Queen Hatshepsut constructed the Unfinished Obelisk during the eighteenth dynasty in the New Kingdom. She wanted to place the obelisk in the Temple of Karnak. If completed, the obelisk would have been 42m tall, and this would have made it the tallest obelisk ever. However, they stopped the construction of the obelisk after they discovered numerous cracks on it.
They carved the obelisk into the core of red granite and shaped it to look like the primeval hill. The ancient Egyptians also referred to it as “Tekhenu,” which translates to “To Pierce the Sky.” Some scholars believe that the origin of obelisk can be traced to an astronomical event that is connected to constellations, zodiac lights, and the sun.
Aswan was the source of the best granite in ancient Egypt. Most of the magnificent obelisks, pyramids, and temples in Egypt were made with granites from Aswan. The gigantic unfinished obelisk provides a useful insight into how these monuments were constructed. When you visit the site, you would see that the construction was in progress before it was abandoned.
There were also various theories claiming that the obelisks were sailed to the Nile by boat. However, it was no clear how they moved the obelisks that weighs 1090 metric tons (the weight of nearly 200 African elephants) to the boats or how they boats were able to handle such weight.
Why You Should Visit the Unfinished Obelisk
The Unfinished Obelisk is in the Northern Quarry of Aswan, and it is about 1.5km from town. It is one of the coolest sites to visit during your Aswan tour, and the place it is located is known as an open-air museum. There is so much to see at this site, as the monument is still partially attached to the bedrock. You would also be able to see how they would have freed the mammoth construction from the bedrock if it had not cracked.
The massive structure and the unique architecture involved makes the Unfinished Obelisk a fascinating site to visit. There are also great sites around that you can visit, such as the Fatimid Cemetery, as it has some of the enthralling ninth century mud-brick burial chambers. This unfinished project is more than 3,500 years old, and it reveals the unbelievable engineering of ancient Egypt.
If you are looking for a great sightseeing venue, then this is one of the places you should visit. The environment is great to spend some time in, especially in the evening. The site is open from 8 in the morning to 4 in the evening.
What to Expect and What to Do
There are many great buildings around the quarry. You can go up a flight of steps, to a high place, to see the wonders of this site. You can have a spatial view of the place. There are many fascinating things you can with do the little time you spend there. If you are architect or in the engineering field, you will spend hours gazing at this marvelous structure and appreciating the high level of engineering at display.
The stone stele is on the ground, looking as if they were in a pit. At the site, you will see the obelisks lying in a heap of rocks on the mountains. When you get close to it, you will see some patterns carved on it. The site holds a lot to see. You can take pictures and spend some quality time in this open-air museum. If you have a tour guide, they would explain most of the symbols, patterns, and historic signs on the site.