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Cleopatra's Needle

From Academic Kids

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Cleopatra’s Needle (London), with (left) the Victoria embankment and (right) the River Thames
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Close up of Cleopatra’s Needle (London)
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One of two sphinxes at the base of Cleopatra’s Needle (London). The scars that disfigure the pedestal of this sphinx were caused by fragments of a bomb dropped in the roadway close to this spot, in the first raid on London by German aeroplanes a few minutes before midnight on Tuesday 4th September 1917
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Cleopatra's Needle in Central Park, New York City

Cleopatra's Needles are a pair of obelisks in London and New York. Each is made of red granite, stands about 21 metres (68 feet) high, weighs about 180 tons and is inscribed with hieroglyphs. Although the needles are genuine Ancient Egyptian obelisks, they are somewhat misnamed as neither has any connection with the legendary queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt. They were originally erected in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis on the orders of Thutmose III, around 1450 BC. The inscriptions were added about 200 years later by Ramses II to commemorate his military victories. The obelisks were moved to Alexandria by the Romans in 12 BC, during the reign of Augustus Caesar, but were toppled some time later. This had the fortuitous effect of burying their faces and so preserving most of the hieroglyphs from the effects of weathering.

Contents

History of the needles

London

The London needle is in the City of Westminster, on the Victoria Embankment near Hungerford Bridge. It was presented to the United Kingdom in 1819 by Mehemet Ali, the Albanian-born viceroy of Egypt, in commemoration of the victories of Lord Nelson at the Battle of the Nile and Sir Ralph Abercromby at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801. Although the British government welcomed the gesture, it declined to fund the expense of transporting it to London.

The obelisk remained in Alexandria until 1877 when Sir William James Erasmus Wilson, a distinguished anatomist and dermatologist, sponsored its transportation to London at a cost of some £10,000 (a very considerable sum in those days). It was dug out of the sand in which it had been buried for nearly 2,000 years and was encased in a great iron cylinder, 92 feet long and 15 feet in diameter, designed by the engineer John Dixon and dubbed Cleopatra. It had a vertical stem and stern, a rudder, two bilge keels, a mast for balancing sails, and a deck house. This acted as a floating pontoon which was to be towed to London by the ship Olga.

The effort met with disaster on 14 October 1877, when the Cleopatra capsized in a storm in the Bay of Biscay, with the loss of six lives. The Cleopatra did not sink but instead drifted in the Bay until it was rescued by the English ship Fitzmaurice and taken to Ferrol in Spain for repairs. It finally arrived in Gravesend on 21 January 1878. The obelisk was erected on the Victoria Embankment the following August.

Cleopatra's Needle is flanked by two faux-Egyptian sphinxes cast from bronze. The Embankment has other Egyptian flourishes, such as buxom winged sphinxes on the armrests of benches. On 4 September 1917, during World War I, bombs from the first German air raid on London by German aeroplanes landed near the needle. In commemoration of this event, the damage remains unrepaired to this day and is clearly visible in the form of shrapnel holes and gouges on the right-hand sphinx.

New York

The New York needle is in Central Park. It was presented to the City of New York by Ismail Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt, and its transportation was funded by the railroad tycoon William Henry Vanderbilt. In contrast with the tortuous journey of the London needle, it arrived safely and was erected in Central Park on 22 February 1881.

The inscriptions

London

New York

The New York needle's inscriptions are well-preserved due to the long burial of the needle, although some have been weathered into illegibility on the exposed face. They are translated as follows:

Face 1:

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Raising_the_obelisk.jpg
London's Cleopatra's Needle being erected, August 1878
The Horus, Strong-Bull-Beloved-of-Ra,
the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, User-maat-ra, Chosen-of-Ra,
Ra, created by the gods, who founded the Two
Lands, the Son of Ra,
Ramesses, Beloved-of-
Amun,
............
............
............
there is no-one who did what he did, in the house of his father,
the Lord of the Two Lands, User-maat-ra,
Chosen of Ra, the Son of Ra,
Ramesses, Beloved of Amun, granted life like Ra,
The Horus, Strong-Bull-Appearing-in-Thebes,
the King of Upper and Lower Egypt,
Men-kheper-ra, who embellishes the house of him who created him,
............
............
............
............
............
............
............
(the Son of Ra, Thutmose), beloved of (Atum),
lord (of Heliopolis), May he live for ever.
The Horus, Strong-Bull-Son-of-Ra,
the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, User-maat-ra.Chosen-of-Ra,
the Golden Horus,
Mighty-in-years-and-great-of-victories, the Son of Ra, Ramesses,
Beloved-of-Amun,
............
............
............
............
............
............
the Lord of the Two Lands, User-maat-ra,
Chosen-of Ra,
the Son of-Ra,
Ramesses, Beloved-of-Amun.

Face 2:

The Horus, Strong-Bull-Son-of-Khepri,
the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, User-maat-ra, Chosen-of-Ra, the-Golden Horus,
Mighty-in years-and-great-of-victories, the Son of Ra,
Ramesses, Beloved-of-Amun, who came forth from the womb in order to receive
the crowns of Ra, who created him to be sole lord the Lord of the Two Lands,
User-maat-ra Chosen-of-Ra, the Son of Ra.
Ramesses, Beloved-of-Amun, one serviceable to Ra and granted life like Ra.
The Horus, Strong-Bull-Appearing-in Thebes,
he of the Two La Goddesses,
Enduring-of-kingship-like-Ra-in-heaven, Bodily son of Atum, whom the Mistress of
Heliopolis bore to him, Thutmose,
whom they created in the temple in the beauty of their members, knowing that
he would exercise enduring kingship throughout eternity,
the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Men-kheper-ra, beloved of Atum, the great god,
together with his Enneat,
granted all life, stability, and dominion like Ra for ever.
The Horus, Strong-Bull-Beloved-of-Ra,
the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, User-maat-ra, Chosen-of-Ra,
Ra, created by the gods, who founded the Two Lands, the Son of Ra, Ramesses, Beloved-of-Amun,
the noble youth, beloved like Aten when the shines on the horizeon,
the Lord of the Two Lands, User-maat-Ra,
Chosen-of-Ra, the Son of Ra,
Ramesses, Beloved-of-Amun, one serviceable to Ra and granted life like Ra.

Face 3:

The Horus, Strong-Bull-Son-of-Khepri,
the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, User-maat-ra, Chosen-of-Ra, the-Golden Horus,
Mighty-in years-and-great-of-victories, the Son of Ra,
Ramesses, Beloved-of-Amun, who came forth from the womb in order to receive
the crowns of Ra, who created him to be sole lord the Lord of the Two Lands,
User-maat-ra Chosen-of-Ra, the Son of Ra.
Ramesses, Beloved-of-Amun, one serviceable to Ra and granted life like Ra.
The Horus, Strong-Bull-Appearing-in Thebes,
he of the Two La Goddesses,
Enduring-of-kingship-like-Ra-in-heaven, Bodily son of Atum, whom the Mistress of
Heliopolis bore to him, Thutmose,
whom they created in the temple in the beauty of their members, knowing that
he would exercise enduring kingship throughout eternity,
the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Men-kheper-ra, beloved of Atum, the great god,
together with his Enneat,
granted all life, stability, and dominion like Ra for ever.
The Horus, Strong-Bull-Beloved-of-Ra,
the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, User-maat-ra, Chosen-of-Ra,
Ra, created by the gods, who founded the Two Lands, the Son of Ra, Ramesses, Beloved-of-Amun,
the noble youth, beloved like Aten when the shines on the horizon,
the Lord of the Two Lands, User-maat-Ra,
Chosen-of-Ra, the Son of Ra,
Ramesses, Beloved-of-Amun, one serviceable to Ra and granted life like Ra.

Face 4:

The Horus, Strong-Bull-Son-of-Khepri,
the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, User-maat-ra, Chosen-of-Ra, the-Golden Horus,
Mighty-in years-and-great-of-victories, the Son of Ra,
Ramesses, Beloved-of-Amun, who came forth from the womb
in order to receive the crowns of Ra,
who created him to be sole lord the Lord of the Two Lands,
User-maat-ra Chosen-of-Ra, the Son of Ra.
Ramesses, Beloved-of-Amun, one serviceable to Ra and granted life like Ra.
The Horus, Strong-Bull-Appearing-in Thebes,
he of the Two La Goddesses,
Enduring-of-kingship-like-Ra-in-heaven, Bodily son of Atum, whom the Mistress of
Heliopolis bore to him, Thutmose,
whom they created in the temple in the beauty of their members, knowing that
he would exercise enduring kingship throughout eternity,
the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Men-kheper-ra, beloved of Atum,
the great god, together with his Enneat,
granted all life, stability, and dominion like Ra for ever.
The Horus, Strong-Bull-Beloved-of-Ra,
the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, User-maat-ra, Chosen-of-Ra,
Ra, created by the gods, who founded the Two Lands, the Son of Ra,
Ramesses, Beloved-of-Amun,
the noble youth, beloved like Aten when the shines on the horizeon,
the Lord of the Two Lands, User-maat-Ra,
Chosen-of-Ra, the Son of Ra,
Ramesses, Beloved-of-Amun, one serviceable to Ra and granted life like Ra.
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