History Embalmed

Egyptian Obelisks

What is an obelisk and what is its purpose? Obelisk Definition: An obelisk is a monumental tapering column  carved from a single block of stone (a monolith), with a square (or rectangular) cross-section and capped with a pointed top called a pyramidion. The word Obelisk is derived from the Greek word obeliskos meaning "needle". Obelisks were set in pairs, at the entrances of temples, and to some Old Kingdom tombs and closely related to the cult of the Sun God Ra also known as Atum. Obelisks symbolized the stability and the creative force of Atum. Obelisks  were believed to act as magical protection to the monuments such as temples and tombs.

Egyptian Obelisk Legends
The Ancient Egyptian Obelisk legends are founded in the creation myth, or Cosmogony, to explain how some of the Gods and Goddesses came into being. The Sun God Ra (as Atum) was one of the Ennead, the collective name given to the nine original deities (Gods and Goddesses) of the cosmogony of Heliopolis (the birthplace of the Gods) in the creation myths and legends. The creation legend relates to the Sun God Ra (as Atum) who rose in the beginning from the primeval ocean called Nun to the first, conical-shaped, mound of earth.

The first rays of the sun fell on Ra marking the way to heaven by ascending the rays of the sun. The original mound of earth was called the benben which was said to be a conical shape (like an obelisk) and four-sided (like a pyramid). The sacred benben stone was worshipped in the ‘Mansion Of The Phoenix’ the Great Sun Temple at Heliopolis. The legend of the Benben Stone could have led to architectural concept of the obelisk and the pyramid. The pointed pyramid-shaped cap on an obelisk is, in fact, called a Benbenet or a pyramidion. The Pyramid and the obelisk are interesting concepts in respect of the Sun God Ra. The obelisk pointing upwards towards the sun and the pyramid as a material representation of the rays of the sun. It is easy to imagine how an ancient Pharaoh would see the association of the obelisk, pyramid and the sun and how the structure could be a means whereby the dead king could ascend to heaven.

History of Egyptian Obelisks
The Ancient Egyptians believed that the obelisk symbolized the sun god Ra and during the brief religious reformation of Akhenaten was said to be a petrified ray of the aten, the sundisk. It was also thought that the god existed within the structure of the obelisk. Obelisks therefore marked specific temples as a zone of sun worship. Obelisks were placed in pairs before the temples with one on either side of the portal. On each side of the obelisk a line of carved inscriptions of hieroglyphics containing the titles of the Pharaoh and praising the god. The cap, or pyramidion, was sometimes sheathed with copper or another metal which caught and reflected the rays of the sun.

Egyptian Obelisks
There are 26 known ancient Egyptian obelisks which are located in many different countries including the UK, USA, France and Italy.

Egyptian Obelisks located in Egypt at Cairo, Luxor and Karnak
The most famous Egyptian Obelisks are located in Egypt at Cairo, Luxor and Karnak as follows:

  • Karnak and Luxor
    • Obelisk to the Pharaoh Tuthmosis I, Karnak Temple, Luxor
    • Obelisk to the Pharaoh Ramses II, Luxor Temple
    • Obelisk to the Pharaoh Hatshepsut, Karnak Temple, Luxor
    • Obelisk to the Pharaoh Ramses III, Luxor Museum
  • Cairo
    • Obelisk to the Pharaoh Sesostris I, Heliopolis, Cairo
    • Obelisk to the Pharaoh Ramses II, Luxor Temple

Obelisk of Queen Hatshepsut at Karnak
The Obelisk of Queen Hatshepsut at Karnak is one of the most famous obelisks. Queen Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt. The location of the Obelisk of Queen Hatshepsutis the Karnak Great Temple of Amun. The Obelisk of Queen Hatshepsut is the tallest obelisk in Egypt with a height of approximately 30 meters and weighing over 300 tons. The obelisk of Hatshepsut is made of red granite. Queen Hatshepsut is said to have built at least 4 other obelisks as monuments to her reign as female pharaoh.

Egyptian Obelisks
Each section of this Egyptian website addresses all topics and provides interesting facts and information about the Golden Age of Egypt. The Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of Egypt, the Ancient Egyptians and of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, King Tut.

Ancient Egypt

Privacy Statement

Cookie Policy

© 2017 Siteseen Ltd