Enigmatic 18th Dynasty Obelisk Unveils Ancient Egypt's Remarkable Engineering Prowess - Creativity Bay
May 30, 2023

Enigmatic 18th Dynasty Obelisk Unveils Ancient Egypt’s Remarkable Engineering Prowess

The Incomplete Obelisk of Aswan, Egypt, stands as a testament to the engineering prowess of the 18th dynasty, dating back over 3,500 years. Obelisks, typically positioned at the entrance of temples, were iconic symbols of ancient Egyptian ingenuity. Interestingly, more than half of the surviving obelisks can be found outside of Egypt, with 13 of them residing in Italy, as they were highly valued by the Romans.

Regrettably, the Aswan obelisk was never completed. Had it been finished, it would have stood at an impressive 137 feet (42 meters) and weighed approximately 1,200 tons. The reason for its abandonment remains a mystery. However, today it serves as an open-air museum, offering valuable insights into the construction methods employed by ancient Egyptians.

Photo: xiaotao / Shutterstock

A prevalent method for crafting monuments involved carving them directly into the bedrock, using stone spheres to smooth out any flaws. Dolerite balls, examples of which are still present at Aswan, were harder than granite and did not crack or break even after repeated pounding against the stone surface.

A fascinating aspect of the Unfinished Obelisk lies in the understanding it provides of how the enormous structure would have been separated from the bedrock if it hadn’t cracked. Surprisingly, the key was wet wood. Laborers chiseled small cavities into the stone, forming a line similar to a perforated sheet of paper. They filled these slots with sun-dried wooden wedges and soaked them in water repeatedly. The expanding wood forced the rock to detach from its original position.

Photo: Hidden Inca Tours

Image from 1904 by Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA). Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: emel82

Photo: xiaotao / Shutterstock

Photo: Chad Bontrager / Shutterstock

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