Egypt to NY: Take Better Care of Your Obelisk

An Egyptian official has sent off a letter to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Parks Commission saying the city better start taking care of the obelisk known as Cleopatra’s Needle, or it would be removed. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities said in the letter he was dismayed at the lack of care and attention that the monument has been given and added he has a responsibility for the care of antiquities both inside and outside of Egypt.

“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,” Hawass wrote.

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 an attempt to cultivate trade relations and to commemorate the opening of the Suez Canal, in 1879 the Khedive of Egypt, Ismail Pasha, gave the United States the obelisk that now sits in Central Park behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Vickie Carp, director of public affairs for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation told LiveScience, where this report originated, there is no evidence at this point of any significant ongoing erosion.

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