Cleopatra’s Needle

Cleopatra’s Needle


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A striking if somewhat incongruous presence on the north bank of the Thames, it’s probably safe to say that Cleopatra’s Needle doesn’t rank among London’s most treasured historical attractions. But it must surely be the oldest. The story of this ancient Egyptian obelisk’s journey to London is arguably more interesting that the monument itself, but it’s definitely worth a look if you’re in town.

Cleopatra’s Needle history

Firstly, we should point out that the Needle’s name is rather misleading. The obelisk predates Cleopatra’s birth by about 1,400 years. It’s seriously old, dating back to around 1450 BC, when it was built by order of Pharoah Tutmos III. Additional hieroglyphic engravings were added a couple of centuries later by Rameses II.

In 12 BC the Romans transported the obelisk from its original location in the ancient city of Heliopolis to Alexandria, then under reign of Augustus, where it featured in the city’s Caesareum. At some point the obelisk collapsed and remained prostrate and partially buried in sand for centuries.

The obelisk’s revival began in 1819, when Muhammad Ali, ruler of Egypt and Sudan, decided it would make a fine commemorative gift to the to the United Kingdom following British victories at the Battle of the Nile and the Battle of Alexandria. There was one condition: you’ll have to come and get it.

The British government accepted the gift but found the cost of transporting it from Egypt to the UK to be prohibitive. So the obelisk remained buried in Egyptian sand until 1877, when Sir William James Erasmus Wilson, a prominent surgeon and dermatologist with an interest in Egypt, took matters into his own hands and shelled out £10,000 to fund the Needle’s passage to London.

Transporting a 224-ton stone obelisk was no easy task however, and Wilson resorted to an unconventional plan. An innovative tube-shaped craft, christened Cleopatra, was built and the obelisk was stored in the cylinder. Cleopatra was then tethered to a steamship called Olga, which would carry it to its new home in England.

But the plan went awry when a storm hit in the Bay of Biscay. It was sufficiently violent that the Olga’s captain started to worry that the Cleopatra might sink, taking his ship with it. Following a dramatic attempt to rescue the Cleopatra’s crew, resulting in the death of six sailors, the captain cut the obelisk-bearing craft loose.

It was assumed that the Cleopatra had sunk and that the obelisk was lost. But, days later, an unusual craft was spotted by Spanish trawlers. Against the odds, the Cleopatra had stayed afloat. It eventually made its way to London, where it was erected on the Victoria Embankment on 12 September 1878.

Cleopatra’s Needle today

The well-preserved ancient Egyptian obelisk is embellished with several Victorian accompaniments, including a pair of stylised sphinxes and a pedestal that reads:

This obelisk
Prostrate for centuries
on the sands of Alexandria
was presented to the
British nation A.D. 1819 by
Mahommed Ali Viceroy of Egypt
A worthy memorial of
our distinguished countrymen
Nelson and Abercromby

At the time of its erection a time capsule was set beneath the obelisk. The contents couldn’t be more Victorian. They include:

A gentleman’s lounge suit, a selection of illustrated newspapers including that day’s issue of The Times, Bradshaw’s Railway Guide, Queen Victoria’s portrait, a complete set of ladies dress and toiletries, Bibles, children’s toys, a set of coins, a razor, and pictures of the most beautiful women in the realm.

Getting to Cleopatra’s Needle

The Needle’s Thames-side location is easy to find. Located between Savoy Pier and Embankment Pier, it’s a short walk from Embankment tube station (which is on the Circle, District, Northern and Bakerloo lines).


Cleopatra’s Needle: John Hamill traces its masonic history

Like St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower and Big Ben, Cleopatra’s Needle is one of London’s most recognisable landmarks. It was presented to the British government in 1819 by the ruler of Egypt and Sudan to commemorate the victories of Lord Nelson at the Battle of the Nile and Sir Ralph Abercromby at the Battle of Alexandria. But it was to lie in the sands outside Alexandria for nearly sixty years because successive British governments refused to pay the enormous costs of transporting it to London.

Giovanni Battista Belzoni (1778-1823) was born in Padua. After various adventures in Italy, Prussia and Holland he arrived in England in 1803 and made his living as an entertainer. At six feet seven inches in height and with enormous strength, he was often billed as the ‘Patagonian Samson’.

Belzoni came into contact with some of the small circle who were to become the advisers to HRH The Duke of Sussex when he became Grand Master. It is not known where Belzoni was initiated, but he entered the Royal Arch in Cambridge and the Knights Templar in Norwich. His splendid Royal Arch jewel is worn today by First Principals of the Chapter of St James, No. 2.

In 1815, Belzoni was persuaded by the agent of Egypt’s Turkish ruler, Pasha Mohammed Ali, to go there to try and help restore that country’s prosperity. Arriving in Cairo, he became fascinated by ancient Egypt and from 1816 to 1820 carried out excavations at Abu Simbel, Thebes, Philae, the Valley of the Kings and Fayum.

Belzoni made many discoveries, not least the tomb of Pharaoh Seti I, making careful notes and extensive drawings of the temples, tombs and wall decorations that he discovered. He is rightly considered to be the father of modern Egyptology, but modern archaeologists would abhor his practice of removing statues, wall paintings and artefacts from his discoveries.

In 1821, Belzoni exhibited his Egyptian treasures in Piccadilly, to huge public acclaim. A narrative of his activities, published in the previous year, quickly went through three printings and was translated into French, German and Italian, while his collections were later auctioned off and bought by the British Museum.

It was Belzoni who suggested to Pasha Mohammed Ali that the obelisk now known as Cleopatra’s Needle be presented to the British government. Belzoni organised its transportation to Alexandria but did not have the finance to move it any further.

It was not until 1877 that the interest of another Freemason, Sir William James Erasmus Wilson (1809-1884), led to the obelisk finally making its journey to England. Wilson was a surgeon who made his name and fortune by specialising in dermatology. One of the first in this field, he wrote a number of works that became the standard textbooks on the subject. He is credited with introducing the idea that a daily bath was a simple way of remaining healthy, and was involved in the movement to provide local bath and wash houses to promote hygiene and public health.

Elected Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Wilson served on many of its committees and was its president in 1881. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and knighted for his services to medical science and his extensive philanthropy. Wilson was much involved in Freemasonry in London and Kent.

‘The whole exercise of transporting Cleopatra’s Needle and organising its final resting place in London cost Wilson almost £10,000.’

Having heard of the obelisk, Wilson began to plan for its transportation. On the advice of engineers, it was encased in an iron tube around which a pontoon was built, complete with rudder and sails. It was to be towed by a merchant vessel, with a small crew steering it from a covered ‘bridge’ built over the tube.

The journey from Cairo through the Mediterranean and out into the Atlantic was largely uneventful. However, disaster struck on entering the Bay of Biscay on 14 October 1877. A sudden storm almost overturned the pontoon, the tow lines broke and it was at the mercy of high seas. The small crew was rescued but in the attempts to retake control of the pontoon, several sailors perished. Eventually the pontoon drifted to the coast of France from where it was salvaged and reconstructed at a cost of £2,000.

The Needle was eventually towed up the Thames, and the wrangling then began as to where it should be erected. Initially it had been planned to stand the obelisk near the Houses of Parliament, but both Houses objected. Finally it was agreed that it should be erected on the new Victoria Embankment, then being constructed as a river road linking Westminster and the City of London. Wilson engaged architects to design a plinth and surroundings, to include two sphinxes, to display the obelisk.

The foundation stone of the plinth was laid with masonic ceremonies and on 12 September 1878 the obelisk was raised. The whole exercise of transporting Cleopatra’s Needle and organising its final resting place in London cost Wilson almost £10,000.

I was very interested in John Hamill’s excellent article, ‘From the Nile to the Thames’, on the story of the transfer of Cleopatra’s Needle from Alexandria to the Thames Embankment. However, there are a few extra points I’d like to add to the story.

Contrary to the usual tale, the famous queen did have something to do with the obelisk that bears her name. It was Cleopatra, and not Belzoni, who transferred the needle from Heliopolis to Alexandria to stand with its partner (now in New York’s Central Park) at the water gate of the Caesarium built by Cleopatra to honour the late Julius Caesar.

The needle was reported as lying flat by an English traveller in the seventeenth century. The final impetus required to move it to Britain was a threat by an Italian landowner who owned the area where the needle resided – he planned to demolish the obelisk to free the site for further development.

It was originally planned to be put in front of the Houses of Parliament, but fears about the safety of the District Line immediately below the site – rather than political squabbling – resulted in the decision to place the needle on the Embankment.

As an interesting adjunct, when the plinth was built, several artefacts were encased beneath it, including a wooden pole found at the opening of one of the so-called ‘air shafts’ in the Queen’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid. Perhaps one day, carbon analysis of this piece of wood will settle the age of the pyramid once and for all.

Brian Skinner, Lodge of Fraternal Unity, No. 7330, London

John Hamill’s interesting article on Cleopatra’s Needle brings to mind another example of Freemason Sir William James Erasmus Wilson’s generosity.

In his excellent book, Benevolence and Excellence, Alan Scadding states that in 1871 Dr Erasmus Wilson offered to the Royal Medical Benevolent College to build a house for the headmaster’s family and forty scholars.

Thus was established in 1873 Wilson House, which ran almost independently of the college for a period – the headmaster charging non-medical parents higher fees for their sons who would be educated ‘under the headmaster’s special eye’.

In 1896, the Royal Medical Benevolent College changed its name to Epsom College and today, Wilson House stands in its original building as a boarding house for girls and a fully integrated part of Epsom College.

The building stands on the Wilson terrace at the top of Wilson Steps, which access Wilson Pitch.


Threading Cleopatra's Needle

Cleopatra's Needle on the Victoria Embankment

On the Victoria Embankment in London, passed by millions of pedestrians every year, is an Egyptian obelisk known as Cleopatra's Needle. One of three, the other two are in New York and Paris, it is made of red granite and stands 68 feet tall. Passerbys occasionally stop and look at it or take a photograph for their album, but few would know the dramatic story of how the 180 ton monolith came to be erected in London, far from its original home.

The obelisk was presented to the United Kingdom in 1819 by Muhammad Ali Pasha, the Egyptian Viceroy, to commemorate the Battle of the Nile in which the British, under Nelson, defeated the French Fleet in August 1798 and the victory of the British under Sir Ralph Abercrombie over the French in March 1801 at the Battle of Alexandria. Although the British government graciously accepted the gift, it refused to pay for the transportation of the massive obelisk to London a cost estimated at around 5,000 pounds. In fact, as early as 1801 plans had been put in train to bring Cleopatra's Needle to London but they had been dropped when it was feared that the removal of the artefact would offend the Turkish authorities.

In the 1830s, the matter was still very much in the public eye. According to W. R. Wilde in Narrative of a Voyage to Madeira, Teneriffe and Along the Shores of the Mediterranean , (2d ed. 1844),

Exactly what was to be done with the gift was a topic of popular discussion in the 1850s. Mr Punch himself, in 1851, seemed to delight in playing word games with the obelisk. At one point, he expressed his view that there seemed

There was, however, more serious discussion in the House of Commons in 1852 about it being brought to England by the proprietors of the Crystal Palace newly relocated in Sydenham.

It was to be brought at the proprietors' expense but the Government reserved the right, should the Crystal Palace not prove as popular as expected, to take possession of it on the payment of the Proprietors' expenses. Toward the end of the decade, Charles Dickens's All the Year Round , was expressing the view that something needed to be done. The Needle belonged to England and should be brought home! Nonetheless, it was not until the mid-1870s that serious efforts were made to bring the obelisk to England.

At a dinner party at the home of the well known artist, Edward A. Goodall, John Dixon, an engineer, proposed that the Needle be brought to England by private means. Not long after this, Erasmus (later Sir Erasmus) Wilson offered to fund the project. Wilson was a highly successful dermatologist interested in Egyptian antiquities and a man of varied and widespread interests.(1)

The Pontoon "Cleopatra"
The plan that was settled on for getting the obelisk to England revolved around the placing of the Needle in an iron cylindrical pontoon, 95 feet long and with a diameter of 15 feet. It had a draft of 9 feet, a displacement of 270 tons and with internal supports at ten foot intervals and elastic packing to secure the obelisk from shocks, it was well designed to take and transport the enormous "Needle." The pontoon had a rudder at its stern and a small deck house on top of the cylinder which allowed the steering of the "Cleopatra" as the pontoon was named. The deck house could house a small crew. In addition, although it was to be towed by steamer to London there were two small sails which were designed to steady the pontoon.

By 1877, The Illustrated News could tell the public that the

There were a few, not unexpected, problems.Very rough weather enroute from Alexandria to Gibralter was sufficient reason for the Captain of the Steamship Olga to decide that it was prudent to put into Algiers for coal. After setting out again, the Olga once more ran into bad weather. On Sunday, 13 October 1877 in a force 7 to 8 gale in the Bay of Biscay, the "Cleopatra" had to be abandoned . In an attempt to rescue those on the pontoon, a boat with six crew from the mother ship was swamped and all six lost their lives. The men are commemorated on a bronze plaque attached to the foot of the needle's mounting stone. Eventually Captain Booth was able to get the Olga next to the pontoon and rescue Captain Carter and the five remaining crew aboard "Cleopatra" which was abandoned and presumed lost.

Within a few days, however, and despite a pessimistic assessment from Captain Carter, the Cleopatra was found floating comfortably in the sea some distance off Ferrol, a coastal town in northwest Spain. On Friday, the 19th of October, The Times reported the receipt of the following telegram from Lloyds.

The "Fitzmaurice," steamer, from Middlesbrough for Valencia, fell in with and recovered at sea the Cleopatra's Needle recovered Cleopatra's Needle, 90 miles north of Ferrol.

Less than a month later, at 7.00 a.m. on Tuesday, 15 January 1878 in fine weather, the Cleopatra resumed its voyage to England in tow behind the paddle tug, Anglia . the great obelisk arrived in the Thames estuary six days later, as debate raged over a permanent location for the needle.

Finally, on Friday, the 15th of February, the Board of Works approved a site on the Thames Embankment at the Adelphi Steps. By the middle of September, the obelisk had been erected and within a month, the site had been cleared of all the material used in the erection of the needle. There it still stands, passed by millions of pedestrians every year of whom few, if any, know its true story.

To download a copy of James King, Cleopatra's needle : a history of the London obelisk, with an exposition of the hieroglyphics (1883), click here.


Planning a Trip

London is a city full of sights and attractions. Due to the age of the city, it houses many monuments that some considered to be more important than Cleopatra’s needle. First-time visitors on a tight schedule will need to decide whether visiting the needle will mean that they cannot see another attraction. If so, tourists will then need to determine whether or not visiting the obelisk is worth their time.

As the obelisk is not part of a museum, tourists can drive to the structure and view it within a short amount of time. Those without a car can take the tube. Another option is to take a city tour which includes the obelisk. City tours are an excellent way to see a lot of London in a short time period.


Obelisks Plus: Cleopatra's Needle. Journey to London.

NOTE: Even with the technology available in 2005, when Italy agreed to repatriate the Obelisk of Axum, it had to be cut into three pieces and flown in three trips to Ethiopia. The obelisk only weighed 160 tonnes.

In ancient Rome, the transportation of obelisks was not just a practical task. Rather, it was testament to Rome’s mastery over both the manmade and the natural, an accomplishment worthy of celebration. According to Pliny the Elder, obelisk ships were put on display and heralded as “more miraculous than anything else on the sea.”

KD: My original plan was to write a small something on the endeavors they had to undertake while transporting one of the Cleopatra's Needles to London. In the process, the OP acquired some additional info.

Cleopatra's Needle is the popular name for each of three Ancient Egyptian obelisks re-erected in London, Paris, and New York City during the nineteenth century. The obelisks in London and New York are a pair the one in Paris is also part of a pair originally from a different site in Luxor, where its twin remains.

Although all three needles are genuine Ancient Egyptian obelisks, their shared nickname is a misnomer, as they have no connection with the Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and were already over a thousand years old in her lifetime. An earlier reference states Queen Cleopatra brought the London obelisk from Heliopolis to Alexandria shortly before the time of Christ for the purpose of decorating a new temple but it was never erected and lay buried in sand on the shore until presented to the British nation in 1819.

  • Gifted:1819
  • Transported:1877
  • Weight:224 short tons (203,000 kg)
  • Height:21 metres (69 ft) high
  • Material:redgranite

  • Secured:1877
  • Erected:1881
  • Weight:200 tons
  • Height:21 metres (69 ft)
  • Material:redgranite

Prior to being loaded onto ship "Dessoug".

The Paris/Luxor Needle

  • Gifted:1830
  • Transported:1833
  • Erected:1833/36
  • Weight:250 metric tons (280 short tons)
  • Height:23 metres (75.5 ft) high
  • Material:yellow granite

After the Obelisk was taken, the mechanical clock provided in exchange was discovered to be faulty, having probably been damaged during transport. The worthless clock still exists to this day in a clocktower in Egypt, and is still not working.

Well, the transporting of the above three obelisks could be considered child games when compared to what, and when they moved to Rome. The stuff is really mind boggling, especially considering when it was accomplished. Anyways, there we go.

Tallest obelisk in Rome, and the largest standing ancient Egyptian obelisk in the world, originally weighing around 455 tons. From the temple of Amun in Karnak, and brought to Alexandria with another obelisk by Constantius II, and brought on its own from there to Rome in 357 to decorate the spina of the Circus Maximus. Found in three pieces in 1587, restored approximately 4 m shorter by Pope Sixtus V, and erected near the Lateran Palace and basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano in 1588 in the place of the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, which was moved to the Capitoline Hill. Current version weighs around 330 tons.

Originally raised in the Forum Iulium in Alexandria by the prefect Cornelius Gallus on Augustus' orders around 30–28 BC. No hieroglyphs. Brought to Rome by Caligula in 40 for the spina of the Vatican Circus. Relocated by Pope Sixtus V in 1586 using a method devised by Domenico Fontana the first monumental obelisk raised in the modern period, it is the only obelisk in Rome that has not toppled since Roman times. During the Middle Ages, the gilt ball on top of the obelisk was believed to contain the ashes of Julius Caesar. Fontana later removed the ancient metal ball, now in a Rome museum, that stood atop the obelisk and found only dust.

The Obelisk of Montecitorio, also known as Solare, is an ancient Egyptian, red granite obelisk of Psammetichus II (595-589 BC) from Heliopolis. Brought to Rome with the Flaminio Obelisk in 10 BC by the Roman Emperor Augustus to be used as the gnomon of the Solarium Augusti, it is now in the Piazza Montecitorio. It is 21.79 metres (71 ft) high, and 33.97 metres (111 ft) including the base and the globe.

Note: There are a few additional smaller ones you can read about here.

To understand some of the shenanigans pertaining to these obelisks, you will have to read the linked wiki articles. They are short, but do provide enough interesting info.

I was not planning on putting all of the above together, so I will only present the obelisk which made its way to London in 1878. The London needle's journey is fairly well known and has plenty of pictures. Additionally, using somebody else's research is always easier.

In February 1878 ‘curious sightseers’ cheered from the bridges as they beheld the equally strange spectacle of a 92-feet long, cigar-shaped iron cylinder (dubbed Cleopatra), draped in bunting, bobbing up the river Thames towards the Adelphi Steps at Victoria Embankment. No ‘seeming mermaid’ steered this craft, however, but the hoary sea dog Captain Carter. It’s precious cargo? Cleopatra’s Needle, one of a pair of obelisks erected by Pharaoh Thutmose III in c.1500 BC at Helopolis in Egypt.

The question of transportation was a problem, it was too expensive to transfer by land and the British Government did not want to get involved in any way. The solution proposed by engineer John Dixon was to encase the obelisk in great iron cylinder, 92 feet (28 m) long and 16 feet (4.9 m) in diameter.

Eventually the obelisk was encased in the cylinder and attached to the steamship Olga for its journey to London, all went well until 14th October 1877, when a storm in the Bay of Biscay caused the cylinder to start rolling, The Olga sent out a rescue boat with six crew, but the boat capsized and all six crew were lost. Captain Carter and the five crew members aboard the Cleopatra were eventually rescued, but the cylinder was feared to have sunk. However these fears were unfounded and the cylinder was found and was taken to Ferrol in Spain. Unfortunately this was not the end of the problem because over £2,000 salvage had to be paid before the journey could be continued.

The money was eventually paid and the William Watkins owned paddle tug Anglia (which was also built at Thames Ironworks) departed Millwall to travel to Ferrol to tow the cylinder back to the Thames. Thankfully this journey was without incident and the tug and the cylinder arrived in the Thames estuary on 21 January 1878.

KD: If the above photograph was taken in the United Kingdom, than what is that second obelisk in the picture? Do we have an additional Egyptian obelisk in the vicinity of the Thames river? It looks like Egypt to me.

  • Designed as a floating pontoon, and commanded by Captain Carter, it was to be towed to London by ship the Olga, commanded by Captain Booth.
  • The cylindrical shape was a clever choice in the context of a constrained budget (private funding by some patrons). Indeed, the cylinder, made of sheet metal riveted curves was literally built around the obelisk, with circular internal partitions used as cradles for the monolith.
  • Once completed , the ship looked like a primitive submarine, but its seagoing capabilities were more limited.



  • Cleopatra's Needle
  • Cleopatra's Needle
  • Cleopatra's Needle, London
  • Cleopatra's Needle (New York City)
  • Luxor Obelisk
  • Obelisque de Louxor in Paris
  • French corvette Sphinx (1829)
  • Cleopatra's Needle and the Secret of the New York Freemasons
  • Cleopatra’s Needle: John Hamill traces its masonic history
  • The Strange Story of the Transportation of Cleopatra’s Needle
  • Cleopatra’s Needle
  • Cleopatra’s Needle
  • The Pharaoh’s Obelisk
  • How Cleopatra’s Needle got to Central Park
  • How to Ship an Obelisk
  • Obelisk Metropolis

KD: Today, when technology is more on par with handling 250 ton weights, we do not appear to care much for moving obelisks. At the same time, when we do move one, we choose to cut it into three pieces.


Conserving the Obelisk

In 2014, the Conservancy completed the first comprehensive conservation of the Obelisk, in collaboration with the Met Museum and NYC Parks. The primary purpose of cleaning the Obelisk was to reveal the hieroglyphs that had been obscured by decades of dirt and pollution. We cleaned its 2,112-square-foot surface with lasers and stabilized it with adhesive products.

Planning for the project began in 2011 and included photographing and scanning the Obelisk to document its condition and conducting a comprehensive survey of the monument's surface. Planning also included testing various methods of cleaning the Obelisk, which determined that lasers were the most sensitive to the stone and most environmentally friendly.

Whether you're visiting the Obelisk in person, learning about its history at the Met Museum, or following its story from afar, now you know how an ancient monument came to call the middle of Manhattan its home. To learn even more, see The New York Obelisk, or How Cleopatra's Needle Came to New York and What Happened When It Got Here.


CHAPTER II.

Obelisks, and the Obelisk Family.

An obelisk is a single upright stone with four sides slightly inclined towards each other. It generally stands upon a square base or pedestal, also a single stone. The pedestal itself is often supported upon two broad, deep steps. The top of the obelisk resembles a small pyramid, called a pyramidion, the sides of which are generally inclined at an angle of sixty degrees. The obelisks of the Pharaohs are made of red granite called Syenite.

In the quarries at Syene may yet be seen an unfinished obelisk, still adhering to the native rock, with traces of the workmen’s tools so clearly seen on its surface, that one might suppose they had been suddenly called away, and intended soon to return to finish their work. This unfinished obelisk shows the mode in which the ancients separated these immense monoliths from the native rock. In a sharply cut groove marking the boundary of the stone are holes, evidently designed for wooden wedges. After these had been firmly driven into the holes, the groove was filled with water. The wedges gradually absorbing the water, swelled, and cracked the granite throughout the length of the groove.

The block once detached from the rock, was pushed [Pg 18] forwards upon rollers made of the stems of palm-trees, from the quarries to the edge of the Nile, where it was surrounded by a large timber raft. It lay by the riverside until the next inundation of the Nile, when the rising waters floated the raft and conveyed the obelisk down the stream to the city where it was to be set up. Thousands of willing hands pushed it on rollers up an inclined plane to the front of the temple where it was designed to stand. The pedestal had previously been placed in position, and a firm causeway of sand covered with planks led to the top of it. Then, by means of rollers, levers, and ropes made of the date-palm, the obelisk was gradually hoisted into an upright position. It speaks much for the mechanical accuracy of the Egyptian masons, that so true was the level of the top of the base and the bottom of the long shaft, that in no single instance has the obelisk been found to be out of the true perpendicular.

There has not yet been found on the bas-reliefs or paintings any representation of the transport of an obelisk, although there is sufficient external evidence to prove that the foregoing mode was the usual one. In a grotto at El Bersheh, however, is a well-known representation of the transportation of a colossal figure from the quarries. The colossus is mounted on a huge sledge, and as a man is represented pouring oil in front of the sledge, it would appear that on the road prepared for its transport there was a sliding groove along which the colossus was propelled. Four long rows of men, urged [Pg 19] on in their work by taskmasters, are dragging the figure by means of ropes.

Obelisk of Usertesen I., still standing at Heliopolis.

[Pg 21] The Syenite granite was very hard, and capable of taking a high polish. The carving is very beautifully executed, and the hieroglyphs rise from a sunken surface, in a style known as “incavo relievo.” In this mode of carving the figures never project beyond the surface of the stone, and consequently are not so liable to be chipped off as they would have been had they projected in “high relief.” The hieroglyphs are always arranged on the obelisks with great taste, in long vertical columns, and these were always carved after the obelisk was placed in its permanent position.

The hewing, transport, hoisting, and carving of such a monolith was a gigantic undertaking, and we are not therefore surprised to learn that “the giant of the obelisk race,” now in front of St. John Lateran, Rome, occupied the workmen thirty-six years in its elaboration.

The chief obelisks known, taking them in chronological order, are as follows:&mdashThree were erected by Usertesen I., a monarch of the XIIth dynasty, who lived about 1750 B.C. He is thought by some to be the Pharaoh that promoted Joseph. Of these three obelisks one still stands at Heliopolis in its original position, and from its great age it has been called “the father of obelisks.” It is sixty-seven and a-half feet high, and is therefore about a foot shorter than the London obelisk. Its companion is missing, and probably lies buried amid the ruins of the sacred city. The third is at Biggig, in the Fyoom, and, [Pg 22] unfortunately, is broken into two parts. Its shape is peculiar, and on that account Bonomi and others say that it cannot with propriety be classed among the obelisks.

After the XIIth dynasty Egypt was ruled for many centuries by monarchs of Asiatic origin, called the Hykshos or “Shepherd Kings.” During the rule of those foreigners it does not appear that any obelisks were erected.

Thothmes I., of the XVIIIth dynasty, erected two in front of the Osiris temple at Karnak. One of these is still standing, the other lies buried by its side. Hatasu, daughter of Thothmes I., and queen of Egypt, erected two obelisks inside the Osiris temple of Karnak, in honour of her father. One, still standing, is about one hundred feet high, and is the second highest obelisk in the world. Its companion has fallen to the ground. According to Mariette Bey, Hatasu erected two other obelisks in front of her own temple on the western bank of the Nile. These, however, have been destroyed, although the pedestals still remain.

Thothmes III., the greatest of Egyptian monarchs, and brother of Hatasu, erected four obelisks at Heliopolis, and probably others in different parts of Egypt. These four have been named “The Needles”&mdashtwo of them “Pharaoh’s Needles,” and two “Cleopatra’s Needles.” The former pair were removed from Heliopolis to Alexandria by Constantine the Great. Thence one was taken, according to some Egyptologists, to Constantinople, where it now stands at the Atmeidan. It is [Pg 23] only fifty feet high, but it is thought that the lower part has been broken off, and that the part remaining is only the upper half of the original obelisk.

The Obelisk of Thothmes III., at Constantinople.

The other was conveyed to Rome, and now stands in front of the church of St. John Lateran, and from its great magnitude it is regarded as “the giant of the obelisk family.”

Amenophis II., of the XVIIIth dynasty, set up a small obelisk, of Syenite granite, about nine feet high. It was [Pg 24] found amid the ruins of a village of the Thebaid, and presented to the late Duke of Northumberland, then Lord Prudhoe.

Amenophis III., of the XVIIIth dynasty, erected two obelisks in front of his temple at Karnak but the temple is in ruins, and the obelisks have entirely disappeared.

Seti I. set up two one, known as the Flaminian obelisk, now stands at the Porta del Popolo, Rome, and the other at Trinita de Monti, in the same city.

Rameses II. was, next to Thothmes III., the mightiest king of Egypt and in the erection of obelisks he surpassed all other monarchs. He set up two obelisks before the temple of Luxor one is still standing, but the other was transported to Paris about forty years ago. The latter is seventy-six feet high, and seven and a-half feet higher than the London one. Two obelisks, bearing the name of Rameses II., are at Rome, one in front of the Pantheon, the other on the C&oeliglian Hill.

Ten obelisks, the work of the same monarch, lie buried at Tanis, the ancient Zoan.

Menephtah, son and successor of Rameses, set up the obelisk which now stands in front of St. Peter’s, Rome. It is about ninety feet high, and as regards magnitude is the third obelisk in the world.

Psammeticus I., of the XXVIth dynasty, set up an obelisk at Heliopolis in the year 665 B.C. It now stands at Rome on the Monte Citorio. Psammeticus II., about the same time that Solomon’s temple was destroyed, erected an obelisk which now stands at Rome, on the [Pg 25] back of an elephant. Nectanebo I. made two small obelisks of black basalt. They are now in the British Museum, and, according to Dr. Birch, were dedicated to Thoth, the Egyptian god of letters. They were found at Cairo, built into the walls of some houses. One was used as a door-sill, the other as a window-sill. They came into possession of the English when the French in Egypt capitulated to the British, and were presented to the British Museum by King George III. in 1801. They are only eight feet high.

Nectanebo II., of the XXXth dynasty, who lived about four centuries before the Christian era, set up two obelisks. One hundred years afterwards they were placed by Ptolemy Philadelphus in front of the tomb of his wife Arsinoë. They were taken to Rome, and set up before the mausoleum of Augustus, where they stood till the destruction of the city in 450 A.D. They lay buried amid the débris of Rome for many hundreds of years, but about a century ago they were dug out. One now stands behind the Church of St. Maria Maggiore, the other in the Piazza Quirinale. Each is about fifty feet high.

Two large obelisks were transported from Egypt to Nineveh in 664 B.C. by Assurbanipal. These two monoliths probably lie buried amid the ruins of that ancient city. The above include the chief obelisks erected by the Pharaohs but several others were erected by the Roman Emperors. Domitian set up one thirty-four feet high, which now stands in the Piazza Navona, in front of [Pg 26] the Church of St. Agnes. Domitian and Titus erected a small obelisk of red granite nine feet high, which now stands in the cathedral square of Benevento. Hadrian and Sabina set up two obelisks, one of which, thirty feet high, now stands on Monte Pincio. An obelisk twenty-two feet high, of Syenite granite, was brought by Mr. Banks from Philæ to England, and now stands in front of Kingston Lacy Hall, Wimborne.

Among obelisks of obscure origin is one of sandstone nine feet high at Alnwick two in the town of Florence, and one sixty feet high, in the city of Arles, made of grey granite from the neighbouring quarries of Mont Esterel. The total number of existing obelisks is fifty-five. Of these thirty-three are standing, and twenty-two lie prostrate on the ground or are buried amid rubbish. Of those standing, twenty-seven are made of Syenite granite.


Palawan- Mt. Cleopatra's Needle

Cleopatra's Needle is considered one of the mystical mountains of Palawan the name came from the obelisk-like rock structure that is found in its peak. This is the mountain you will pass on the way to the Puerto Princesa Underground River - a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous attractions in the province. According to the Suakwal Mountaineers - source of the itinerary for this article - the environment is extensively covered with forests and full of wildlife. At the summit, if the skies are clear, one will be offered a view of Honda Bay and Sulu Sea as well as South China Sea and of course, a panorama of the city proper.

To experience climbing Mt. Cleopatra's Needle has been described as a 'challenging hike for serious climbers it takes 3-4 days. The trail involves countless river crossings, boulders, and of course, an enchanting biodiversity that has attracted scientists. At least three jump-offs have been described, but the most frequently used starts at Sitio Tagnaya in Brgy. Conception. Travelling to the place is usually done as a night trek on Day one the next day is a hike to the foot of Cleopatra's Needle. Only on the third day will one be able to assault the summit of Cleopatra's Needle - and back to camp. Finally, Day four covers the treks of the first two days, all the way back to Puerto Princesa.

Mt. Cleopatra's Needle-Concern

Must Know: Malaria care. Although the province of Palawan is very active in trying to eradicate malaria, PinoyMountaineer still recommends taking prophylaxis. Melfoquine (Lariam S) once weekly - one week before until two weeks after your trip.

Mt. Cleopatra's Needle- Itenerary

Day One
Meeting place @ San Jose terminal
ETA Bgy. Concepcion, hike to sitio Tagnaya
ETA CAMP 1 - Sitio Tagnaya, packed dinner
Lights out

Day Two
Wake up, breakfast, break camp
Start trek
ETA at Kampo Uno, break (packed lunch)
Resume trek
ETA CAMP 2 - foot of Cleopatra&rsquos Needle
Break camp, prepare dinner
Dinner / socials

Day Three
Wake-up, prepare breakfast
Start peak assault (w/o backpacks) &ndash trek takes about 3-4 hours
ETA summit, break (packed lunch)
Trek down to CAMP 2
ETA CAMP 2, prepare dinner
Lights out

Day Four
Wake-up, prepare breakfast
Start trek back to CAMP 1
Lunch break (packed lunch)
Resume trek
ETA CAMP 1, break
Resume trek to natl. highway
ETA natl. highway, dinner..wait for PUV to city proper

Beach Mt. Cleopatra's Needle- Location:

Brgy. Concepcion, Puerto Princesa, Philippines.

About Palawan - Mt. Cleopatra's Needle

Palawan Island of the Philippines is located in Region IV-B. In terms of total area of jurisdiction, Palawan is the largest province in the country and Puerto Princesa City Its capital. Palawan is stretch from Sablayan tip of Mindoro Island in the northeast to Kudat island of Borneo in the southwest. It lies between the Sulu Sea and South China Sea. Palawan Island has a land area of about 22500 square kilometers which is 50 kilometers wide and 450 kilometers long. Palawan appears to be long and narrow island surrounded with a large number of other smaller islands surrounding the main island. The following islands are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needleare Coron Island, Busuanga Island, and Culion Island belongs Calamianes Group of islands. Balabac Island is located off the southern tip of Palawan and Durangan Island in westernmost part of Palawan Island are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle. The Cuyo Islands is in the Sulu Sea are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle. A few hundred kilometers to the west is the Spratly Islands which is considered part of Palawan by the Philippines and locally called the Kalayaan Group of Islands are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle. Palawan has irregular coastline and consists of dotted islands and islets around 1,780, white sandy beaches and rocky coves are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle. Palawan chain of mountain ranges covers with vast stretch of virgin forests are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle. The source of valuable timber is the vast mountain areas the highest peak rising to 2,086 meters, with with mountain heights average 1,100 meters in altitude at Mount Mantalingahan are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle. Palawan has terrain riverine arteries that serve as irrigation mixed with craggy foothills, coastal plain, heavy forest and valley deltas are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle.

The discovery of skull and bone fragments remains of the Tabon Man confirmed the history of Palawan traced back approximately 22,000 years ago located in the municipality of Quezon close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle. The Palawan Anthropologists believe that the origin of the cave dwellers came from Borneo although is not yet established. The Tabon Caves discovered the remains of the Tabon Man along with his tools and a number of artifacts and known it as the Cradle of Philippine Civilization. The Philippines by way of land bridges between Palawan and Borneo enormous number of migrants arrived. The period of the Three Kingdoms called "Little Dark People" they live in South China Anwei province were driven South by Han People during 220 up to 263 AD. Others went farther south to Sumatra, Indonesia, Borneo and some settled in Thailand. They natives had a non-formal form of government, an indigenous political structure developed in the island. The Palawan Island regularly visits by ancient Chinese traders in AD 982. These islands called by the Chinese author as Palau-ye (Palawan), Paki-nung (Busuanga) and Kla-ma-yan (Calamian). There are recovered from caves and waters of Palawan China Pottery, and other artifacts which attest the trade relations that existed between Malay and Chinese merchants and these are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle.

Malay settlers began to populate the island during the 12th century. Malay chieftains ruled settlers in every industry such as grew palay, coconuts, ginger, camote, bananas and sugar, raising pigs, goats and chickens, says the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood. Most of their economic activities were farming, fishing, and hunting by the use of pipe guns and bamboo traps, these are talks of the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood. The Palawan aborigines had a dialect consisting of 18 syllables called the Majapahit Empire, the Indonesians 13th century, and they brought with them Hinduism and Buddhism. The Sultanate of Borneo was almost in control of the southern portions of the island because of Palawan's proximity to Borneo. Then Islam was introduced after more than two centuries. Trade relations flourished during that period, and intermarriages among the natives and Japanese, Chinese, Hindu and Arab. A distinct breed of Palaweños resulted after the inter-mixing of blood, both in features and physical stature, these are talks of the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood.

In 1818 Taytay was declared as the capital of Province of Calamianes Palawan. The bounty of the land saved them from starvation after fleet remnants of Ferdinand Magellan's landed in Palawan. Magellan's writer Antonio Pigafetta named the place "Land of Promise." In Palawan, the Spaniards captured the Chief Tuan Mohamad and his staff aboard their vessel and taken hostage, this is the first ever recorded act of piracy in the Philippines happened, demanded ransom within 7 days consisting of 450 chickens, one hundred ninety sacks of clean rice, 20 goats, 20 pigs, and several jars of tuba - coconut wine, these are talks of the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood.

The first to come under Spanish authority were the northern Calamianes Islands in the early 17th century, and were later declared a province separate from the Palawan mainland. Spanish friars sent out missions in Agutaya, Cuyo, Cagayancillo and Taytay but they met resistance from Moro communities. For protection against Moro raids in the town of Balabac, Cuyo, Linapacan and Taytay, the Spainiards began to build churches enclosed by garrisons before 18th century these are talks of the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood. The Palawan single province named Calamianes was organized in 1818 and the entire island of Palawan declared Taytay as its capital. The Palawan province was divided into two provinces in 1858, Asturias covering the southern mainland with Puerto Princesa as capital and Castilla covering the northern section with Taytay as capital. It was later declared the town of Principe Alfonso as its capital then divided into three districts, the Paragua, Calamianes and Balabac, these are talks of the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood.

The Americans established civil rule in northern Palawan in 1902, the province was reorganized in 1903 and in pursuant to Philippine Commission Act No. 1363, the province was renamed to Palawan and Puerto Princesa declared as its capital, these are talks of the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood.

The rescue of 150 prisoners of war was prevented against advancing allies when General Tomoyuki Yamashita herded them at Puerto Princesa Palawan into three covered trenches which were then set on fire using barrels of gasoline on 14 December 1944 the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood said. Between 133 and 141 number of prisoners who tried and attempt to escape but were massacred, hunted and killed only 11 men escaped the slaughter says the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood. Between February 28 and April 22, 1945 when Palawan Island was liberated from the Japanese Imperial Forces by a task force consisting of Filipino and American military personnel according to the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood. Palawan consists of 367 barangays and 23 municipalities, 13 municipalities are considered as mainland municipalities, and these are, Aborlan, Quezon, Narra, Sofronio Brooke's Point, Española, Bataraza and Rizal, Puerto Princesa, and San Vicente, Roxas, Dumaran, El Nido, and Taytay. The remaining municipalities are Coron, Busuanga, Culion and Linapacan (forming the Calamianes group of islands), Cuyo, Magsaysay and Agutaya (the Cuyo group of islands), Cagayancillo, Araceli, and Kalayaan and Balabac (Spratly Islands) these are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle. The highly-urbanized city that governs itself independently usually in grouped is the Puerto Princesa capital of the province for statistical purposes. The mainland municipalities has a land area 12,239 km² and the island municipalities altogether measures 2,657 km² where each municipality has an area of 620 km², whereas the Palawan Island has a total land area of 14,896 square kilometer. The largest in terms of municipal waters is the island municipality of Cuyo measuring 4,003 km² and the smallest is the mainland municipality of Sofronio Española with an area of only 485 km² close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle. The central and northern mainland is the largest municipalities Taytay with 1,390 km², Puerto Princesa with 2,106 km² and Roxas with 1,220 km². The smallest municipalities are Magsaysay with 27.70 km², Cagayancillo with 15.40 km² and Cuyo (57.30 km²) close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle.

English is a widely spoken in Palawan there are fifty two languages and dialects in the province, with fifty percent are Tagalog people. Other languages are 9.5 percent are Ilonggo, 5 percent are Palawano and 26.25 percent are Cuyonon. The population of the entire Palawan is 737,100 with a strong culture from China, India and the Middle East says the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood. Influx of migrants from Muslim Mindanao raised the high population growth rate of 3.98 percent annually of Palawan. However, the native-born Palaweños still the dominating population such as the Palawano, Tagbanua, Molbog and Batak says the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood.

National Geographic Traveler magazine cited Palawan also the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood said, the only best in Philippine island as destination in East and Southeast Asia region, and the thirteenth best island in the world having "incredibly beautiful natural seascapes and landscapes. The Philippine Mouse-deer, Palawan Bearded Pig, Palawan Peacock-pheasant and Philippine Pangolin are called endemic species of Palawan, these are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle. More than 250 kinds of birds, butterflies flutter around the mountains, some are 1500 hosts of plants in the forests and grasslands are found in Palawan, these are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle. Endangered sea turtles nest on white beaches.

The craggy limestone cliffs surround the 7 lakes which attracts hundreds of nature lovers to Coron Reefs in Northern Palawan, near the town of Coron. Busuanga Island is the jump-off point for numerous dive operators which is the main town is Coron, these are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle. The principal dive sites are twelve World War II Japanese shipwrecks close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle. They range in depth from the surface to forty meters. Dive courses are offered ranging from Discover Scuba to Assistant Instructor, Technical and Enriched Air Diving, as well as other specialty courses. Dive operators offer day snorkeling trips, diving, and overnight dive safaris. Live-aboard and charter boats also offer diving in the area, these are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle.

The Palawan province has a population of 93,691 that includes the Pala'wans, Tagbanuas, Batacs, Ken-Uys, Calamianes, Jama-Mapuns, Cagayanos, Molbogs, Agutayanos, and Tau't Batu. The Tagbanuas of Palawan scattered in the north, are short and slender according to the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood. The Pala'wans of Palawan occupy the southern highlands. They traditionally hunt using soars, and bamboo blowguns according to the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood. The Batacs of Palawan are of Negrito descent according to the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood. The Calamianes or Kalamians of Palawan according to the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood are native to the Calamian islands. The Ken-Uys of Palawan according to the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood, the "vanishing tribe" of Palawan, live in the mountains in the south. The Molbogs live in Balabac Island, Tau't Batu, "people of the rock," are cave dwellers who hunt bats and birds according to the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood.

Palawan's ethnic diversity has number of languages and dialects spoken according to the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood. According to the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood about forty percent speak native tongues: Pinalawan, Cuyuno, Cagayano, Tagbanua, Agutayano, and Batak. The non-native tongues are Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilonggo and Muslim dialects.

The Palawan Hornbill known locally as Talusi according to the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood, is a smallish (around 28 in long) forest-dwelling bird. A dark green gloss on its upper parts and a large creamy-white beak with a casque typical of the hornbill family that plumage is predominantly black with a white tail.

According to the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood, 9 species of hornbill are found in the Philippines where Mt. Cleopatra's Needleis close to it and the Palawan Hornbill is endemic to Palawan island, but has also been recorded on nearby islands of Busuanga, Balabac, Calauit, Coron, and Culion according to the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood. Most visiting birdwatchers travel from the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleto St Paul's National Park, Palawan to see this bird, but it is now uncommon.

It is usually seen in pairs or small noisy family parties according to the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood, and has a communal roosting site. It is most usually observed in fruiting trees at the forest edge, but also feeds on insects and small reptiles according to the Mt. Cleopatra's Needleneighborhood.

Palawan Malampaya Sound Land and Palawan Seascape Protected Area
The habitat of Bottle-nosed and Irrawaddy dolphins is located in the Municipality of Taytay close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle.

Palawan El Nido Marine Reserve Park
A marine reserve park and municipality at the northernmost tip of Palawan Island is one of the many beaches of El Nido. El Nido&rsquos sister hotel Amanpulo Resorts are El Nido Lagen Island and El Nido Miniloc Island in Miniloc. The Mt. Cleopatra's Needleprotects the Palawan&rsquos giant clam gardens cottages on stilts are set above the crystalline ocean, these are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle.

Palawan Tubbataha Reef Marine Park
The Tubbataha Reef Marine Park including the North and South Reefs covers 332 square km. serving as a nesting site for birds and a marine turtle is the North Islet. The site is an extensive lagoons and two coral islands and excellent example of a pristine coral reef with a spectacular 100 meter perpendicular wall, these are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle.

Palawan Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park
The park features a large limestone karst landscape with an underground river close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle.

Palawan Ursula Island
This game refuge and bird sanctuary is situated near the Municipality of Brooke's Point in southern Palawan. The islet is a migratory and wintering ground for shorebirds and seabirds, these are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle.

Palawan Security Force
Spearheading the maintenance of the peace and order situation are the PNP-Palawan Command with headquarters in Tiniguiban, Puerto Princesa, AFP&ndashWestern Command in Canigaran, Delta Company and 10th Marine Battalion in Tiniguiban, Puerto Princesa, and PAF 4th Naval District IV in Western Command, these are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle.

Palawan Health facilities
There are 9 private hospitals, 2 national government hospitals, and 9 provincial government hospitals, one military hospital in the province, these are close to Mt. Cleopatra's Needle.

  • Palawan Medicare Hospitals are Palawan-Aborlan Medicare Hospital, Palawan-Quezon Medicare Hospital, and Palawan-Roxas Medicare Hospital.
  • Palawan District Hospitals are Palawan-Brooke&rsquos Point District Hospital, Palawan-Taytay District Hospital, Palawan Cuyo District Hospital, and Palawan Coron District Hospital.
  • Palawan Municipal Hospitals are Palawan Narra Municipal Hospital and Palawan Dumaran Municipal Hospital
  • Palawan Rural Health Units with Lying-In are Palawan Rizal Rural Health Unit, Palawan Bataraza Rural Health Unit, San Vicente Rural Health Unit, Palawan Araceli Rural Health Unit, Palawan Linapacan Rural Health Unit, Busuanga Rural Health Unit, and Cagayancillo Rural Health Unit.
  • Palawan Private Hospitals are Palawan Adventist Hospital, Palawan Sacred Heart Hospital, Palawan Manipol Hospital, RTN Hospital, Palawan Baptist Hospital, Palawan Alfonso Birthing Home, Palawan Leoncio General Hospital, vSagrado Hospital, and Palawan Cooperative Hospital/Medical Mission Group.

The Palawan cities and destinations are Puerto Princesa, Quezon, Busuanga, Coron, El Nido, Port Barton, Sabang, San Jose, Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park, Aborlan, San Vicente, Calauit, Pamalican, Sheridan Beach Mt. Cleopatra's Needle& Spa, and Narra.

How to get to Palawan - Mt. Cleopatra's Needle
Palawan Puerto Princesa International Airport is the main gateway to Palawan, major airlines serve international and domestic flights Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Zest Airways, SEAIR and Air Philippines have flights to and from Manila and Cebu. Palawan El Nido Airport provides charter flights Island Transvoyager Inc. and seasonal flights are offered by SEAIR. Cheapest option while getting around Palawan is the local jeepney, tricycles are also available. Getting from one island to another in Palawan is possible daily boat trips are available. Car and van rentals are also available in Palawan.


Coin of Cleopatra and Mark Antony

This coin shows Cleopatra and Mark Antony. As noted, only about 10 coins have survived in good condition from Cleopatra's era. On this coin, Cleopatra and Mark Antony look very similar to each other, which has caused historians to question whether the image of the queen is really a true likeness.


SH Archive Obelisks Plus: Cleopatra's Needle. Journey to London.

NOTE: Even with the technology available in 2005, when Italy agreed to repatriate the Obelisk of Axum, it had to be cut into three pieces and flown in three trips to Ethiopia. The obelisk only weighed 160 tonnes.


Axum Obelisk Reinstall

In ancient Rome, the transportation of obelisks was not just a practical task. Rather, it was testament to Rome’s mastery over both the manmade and the natural, an accomplishment worthy of celebration. According to Pliny the Elder, obelisk ships were put on display and heralded as “more miraculous than anything else on the sea.”

KD: My original plan was to write a small something on the endeavors they had to undertake while transporting one of the Cleopatra's Needles to London. In the process, the OP acquired some additional info.

Cleopatra's Needle is the popular name for each of three Ancient Egyptian obelisks re-erected in London, Paris, and New York City during the nineteenth century. The obelisks in London and New York are a pair the one in Paris is also part of a pair originally from a different site in Luxor, where its twin remains.

Although all three needles are genuine Ancient Egyptian obelisks, their shared nickname is a misnomer, as they have no connection with the Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and were already over a thousand years old in her lifetime. An earlier reference states Queen Cleopatra brought the London obelisk from Heliopolis to Alexandria shortly before the time of Christ for the purpose of decorating a new temple but it was never erected and lay buried in sand on the shore until presented to the British nation in 1819.

  • Gifted:1819
  • Transported:1877
  • Weight:224 short tons (203,000 kg)
  • Height:21 metres (69 ft) high
  • Material:redgranite

  • Secured:1877
  • Erected:1881
  • Weight:200 tons
  • Height:21 metres (69 ft)
  • Material:redgranite


Source

On the right: Is this a photograph, or a drawing?

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Prior to being loaded onto ship "Dessoug".

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The Paris/Luxor Needle

  • Gifted:1830
  • Transported:1833
  • Erected:1833/36
  • Weight:250 metric tons (280 short tons)
  • Height:23 metres (75.5 ft) high
  • Material:yellow granite

After the Obelisk was taken, the mechanical clock provided in exchange was discovered to be faulty, having probably been damaged during transport. The worthless clock still exists to this day in a clocktower in Egypt, and is still not working.

Well, the transporting of the above three obelisks could be considered child games when compared to what, and when they moved to Rome. The stuff is really mind boggling, especially considering when it was accomplished. Anyways, there we go.

Tallest obelisk in Rome, and the largest standing ancient Egyptian obelisk in the world, originally weighing around 455 tons. From the temple of Amun in Karnak, and brought to Alexandria with another obelisk by Constantius II, and brought on its own from there to Rome in 357 to decorate the spina of the Circus Maximus. Found in three pieces in 1587, restored approximately 4 m shorter by Pope Sixtus V, and erected near the Lateran Palace and basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano in 1588 in the place of the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, which was moved to the Capitoline Hill. Current version weighs around 330 tons.

Originally raised in the Forum Iulium in Alexandria by the prefect Cornelius Gallus on Augustus' orders around 30–28 BC. No hieroglyphs. Brought to Rome by Caligula in 40 for the spina of the Vatican Circus. Relocated by Pope Sixtus V in 1586 using a method devised by Domenico Fontana the first monumental obelisk raised in the modern period, it is the only obelisk in Rome that has not toppled since Roman times. During the Middle Ages, the gilt ball on top of the obelisk was believed to contain the ashes of Julius Caesar. Fontana later removed the ancient metal ball, now in a Rome museum, that stood atop the obelisk and found only dust.

The Obelisk of Montecitorio, also known as Solare, is an ancient Egyptian, red granite obelisk of Psammetichus II (595-589 BC) from Heliopolis. Brought to Rome with the Flaminio Obelisk in 10 BC by the Roman Emperor Augustus to be used as the gnomon of the Solarium Augusti, it is now in the Piazza Montecitorio. It is 21.79 metres (71 ft) high, and 33.97 metres (111 ft) including the base and the globe.

Note: There are a few additional smaller ones you can read about here.

To understand some of the shenanigans pertaining to these obelisks, you will have to read the linked wiki articles. They are short, but do provide enough interesting info.

I was not planning on putting all of the above together, so I will only present the obelisk which made its way to London in 1878. The London needle's journey is fairly well known and has plenty of pictures. Additionally, using somebody else's research is always easier.

In February 1878 ‘curious sightseers’ cheered from the bridges as they beheld the equally strange spectacle of a 92-feet long, cigar-shaped iron cylinder (dubbed Cleopatra), draped in bunting, bobbing up the river Thames towards the Adelphi Steps at Victoria Embankment. No ‘seeming mermaid’ steered this craft, however, but the hoary sea dog Captain Carter. It’s precious cargo? Cleopatra’s Needle, one of a pair of obelisks erected by Pharaoh Thutmose III in c.1500 BC at Helopolis in Egypt.

The question of transportation was a problem, it was too expensive to transfer by land and the British Government did not want to get involved in any way. The solution proposed by engineer John Dixon was to encase the obelisk in great iron cylinder, 92 feet (28 m) long and 16 feet (4.9 m) in diameter.


Eventually the obelisk was encased in the cylinder and attached to the steamship Olga for its journey to London, all went well until 14th October 1877, when a storm in the Bay of Biscay caused the cylinder to start rolling, The Olga sent out a rescue boat with six crew, but the boat capsized and all six crew were lost. Captain Carter and the five crew members aboard the Cleopatra were eventually rescued, but the cylinder was feared to have sunk. However these fears were unfounded and the cylinder was found and was taken to Ferrol in Spain. Unfortunately this was not the end of the problem because over £2,000 salvage had to be paid before the journey could be continued.


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The money was eventually paid and the William Watkins owned paddle tug Anglia (which was also built at Thames Ironworks) departed Millwall to travel to Ferrol to tow the cylinder back to the Thames. Thankfully this journey was without incident and the tug and the cylinder arrived in the Thames estuary on 21 January 1878.

Cleopatra’s Needle was secured to the Thames Embankment in September 1878

Source

KD: If the above photograph was taken in the United Kingdom, than what is that second obelisk in the picture? Do we have an additional Egyptian obelisk in the vicinity of the Thames river?

  • Designed as a floating pontoon, and commanded by Captain Carter, it was to be towed to London by ship the Olga, commanded by Captain Booth.
  • The cylindrical shape was a clever choice in the context of a constrained budget (private funding by some patrons). Indeed, the cylinder, made of sheet metal riveted curves was literally built around the obelisk, with circular internal partitions used as cradles for the monolith.
  • Once completed , the ship looked like a primitive submarine, but its seagoing capabilities were more limited.
The Arrival of Cleopatra's Needle in the Cylinder Ship 'Cleopatra'

Additional "to London" Images


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A whaleback?

In London

  • Cleopatra's Needle
  • Cleopatra's Needle
  • Cleopatra's Needle, London
  • Cleopatra's Needle (New York City)
  • Luxor Obelisk
  • Obelisque de Louxor in Paris
  • French corvette Sphinx (1829)
  • Cleopatra's Needle and the Secret of the New York Freemasons
  • Cleopatra’s Needle: John Hamill traces its masonic history
  • The Strange Story of the Transportation of Cleopatra’s Needle
  • Cleopatra’s Needle
  • Cleopatra’s Needle
  • The Pharaoh’s Obelisk
  • How Cleopatra’s Needle got to Central Park
  • How to Ship an Obelisk
  • Obelisk Metropolis

KD: Today, when technology is more on par with handling 250 ton weights, we do not appear to care much for moving obelisks. At the same time, when we do move one, we choose to cut it into three pieces.


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