Zahi Hawass fears for the Egyptian Obelisk in Central Park





Since 1880 a beautiful obelisk commemorating King Thutmose III has stood in Central Park in New York City. This obelisk is one of a pair - the other one currently stands in Westminster in London.

The Central Park obelisk of Thutmose III. (Photo: Richard Paschael and Dorothy McCarthy)
It has recently been brought to my attention that this incredibly valuable monument has been severely weathered over the past century and that no efforts have been made to conserve it. Because one of the main focuses of my tenure as Secretary General has been the conservation and protection of Egyptian antiquities, I feel it necessary that I fight for the restoration of this obelisk. Today I sent a letter to the president of the Central Park Conservancy and the Mayor of New York City asking for their assistance in caring for this artifact. I would like to share it with all of you:

"I write to you as someone who shares a mutual interest in conserving precious historical treasures for future generations. I applaud the efforts of the City of New York and the Central Park Conservancy in restoring this beautiful space, but I would like to draw your attention to a monument that I, and many others, believe have been overlooked in the park.

I am sure you are well aware of the obelisk of Thutmose III, referred to as “Cleopatra’s Needle,” that has resided in Central Park since 1880. I am glad that this monument has become such an integral part of New York City, but I am dismayed at the lack of care and attention that it has been given.

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. I have a duty to protect all Egyptian monuments whether they are inside or outside of Egypt. If the Central Park Conservancy and the City of New York cannot properly care for this obelisk, I will take the necessary steps to bring this precious artifact home and save it from ruin....

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