The pink granite used in all Egyptian obelisks originates from the same quarry near Aswan. Granite has intrinsic structural strength and can sustain its own weight. As a result, it would not shatter during quarrying or building. The incomplete obelisk in Aswan weighs over 1000 tons and demonstrates how obelisks were constructed. Each side is about 32 feet (10 m) long and 1 foot (30 cm) thick.
The Egyptians built many other kinds of monuments using the same kind of granite. These include pyramids, statues, and religious buildings.
Obelisks were used as landmarks and to mark sacred places. There are several examples of obelisks being used in this way in Egypt. One such example is the Obelisk of Maxentius in Rome which was brought from Egypt in 1588 by Antonio Gaudo. This obelisk is now located in the centre of Rome.
Another example can be seen in Chicago at the South Park District. This monument was cast in France in 1869-70 and brought to America by ship. It was then re-erected here in the city's south park district.
In addition to these examples in North America, there are also several obelisks still standing in Europe. Two of them are in London: one that stands in St. Paul's Cathedral and another that stands in front of Liverpool Cathedral.
Only eight ancient Egyptian obelisks exist in Egypt today, with others located in England, France, Israel, Italy, Poland, Turkey, and the United States. Obelisks represented a rich vein of symbolism and religious belief for ancient Egyptians, in addition to being a colossal architectural feat. The earliest known obelisk in Egypt was built around 2680 BC by Pharaoh Zoser of the 3rd Dynasty. It was made of limestone and covered in images of snakes and vultures.
Other ancient Egyptian examples include: the Giza obelisk which is nearly three hundred feet tall; the second-oldest obelisk in Cairo, which was built in ad 250 by Pharaonic ruler Horemheb; and the third-oldest obelisk in Cairo, which was erected around 1290 BC by Pharaoh Sesostris II. In addition to these three famous obelisks, there are also many other smaller ones spread across Egypt. Some were used as markers for royal hunting grounds, while others were placed in temples to honor the gods.
In Europe, only two obelisks remain today. One is in Rome (which has been preserved since AD 125), and the other one is in Paris (which was brought from Egypt in 1762).
In North America, only one obelisk remains today. It is called the Washington Monument, and it is located in Washington, D.C.
Obelisks composed of softer rock (such as sandstone) were removed from the bedrock by first drilling holes in the rock and then driving wooden spikes into it. After that, the wood was drenched with water. This would make the wood expand and force open the cracks in the rock.
The first known example of an obelisk is a limestone one that was erected in Rome around 30 BC for the emperor Augustus. It was designed by Lucius Ostius and built by Materia Medica and Sosigenes. The word "obelisk" comes from Latin obelisks, which means "little mountain".
People have been making obelisks for over 2,000 years. They are made of different materials, but most of them are made of granite or marble. In fact, there are only five other types of material used in building obelisks: bronze, jade, sandstone, schist and serpentine.
The first recorded evidence of an Egyptian being responsible for carving an obelisk comes from about 1550 BC. An anonymous carver named "Ouyang Yujian" was paid 40 shekels of silver by the city of Luoyi to carve an obelisk for use in the burial monument of its king.