Antiqua Print Gallery Cleopatra's Needle
Enter your email details
view cart
Items: 0 Total: £0.00
currency
US DollarEuroAustralian DollarPound Sterling

CAN WE HELP?

 Phone +44-208-960-3476
 Mobile +44-7973-156514

 Email info@antiquemapsandprints.com

10% off orders of 4 or more items

We will apply a 10% discount when you purchase at least 4 items.

Cleopatra's Needle

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 London and New York ones are a pair, while the Paris one comes from a different original site where its twin remains. Although the needles are genuine Ancient Egyptian obelisks, they are somewhat misnamed as they have no particular connection with Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt, and were already over a thousand years old in her lifetime. The Paris "needle" was the first to be moved and re-erected, and the first to acquire the nickname.

Description of the London and New York pair

The pair are made of red granite, stand about 21 metres (68 ft) high, weigh about 180 tons and are inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphs. They were originally erected in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis on the orders of Thutmose III, around 1450 BC. The material of which they were cut is granite, brought from the quarries of Aswan, near the first cataract of the Nile. The inscriptions were added about 200 years later by Ramesses II to commemorate his military victories. The obelisks were moved to Alexandria and set up in the Caesareum — a temple built by Cleopatra in honor of Mark Antony — by the Romans in 12 BC, during the reign of Augustus, 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.

London

The London needle is in the City of Westminster, on the Victoria Embankment near the Golden Jubilee Bridges. 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 (28 m) long and 16 feet (4.9 m) in diameter, designed by the engineer John Dixon and dubbed Cleopatra, to be commanded by Captain Carter. 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, commanded by Captain Booth.
The effort met with disaster on 14 October 1877, in a storm in the Bay of Biscay, when the Cleopatra began wildly rolling, and became untenable. The Olga sent out a rescue boat with six volunteers, but the boat capsized and all six crew were lost - named today on a bronze plaque attached to the foot of the needle's mounting stone. Captain Booth on the Olga eventually managed to get his ship next to the Cleopatra, to rescue Captain Carter and the five crew members aboard Cleopatra. Captain Booth reported the Cleopatra "abandoned and sinking," but instead she drifted in the Bay until found four days later by Spanish trawler boats, then rescued by the Glasgow steamer Fitzmaurice and taken to Ferrol in Spain for repairs. The Master of the Fitzmaurice lodged a salvage claim of £5,000 which had to be settled before departure from Ferrol, which was negotiated down and settled for £2,000. The William Watkins Ltd paddle tug Anglia under the command of Captain David Glue was then commissioned to tow the Cleopatra back to the Thames. On their arrival in the estuary, the school children of Gravesend were given the day off when she arrived on the 21 January 1878. The obelisk was erected on the Victoria Embankment on 12 September 1878.
Cleopatra's Needle is flanked by two faux-Egyptian sphinxes cast from bronze that bear hieroglyphic inscriptions that say netjer nefer men-kheper-re di ankh (the good god, Thuthmosis III given life). These Sphinxes appear to be looking at the Needle rather than guarding it. This is due to the Sphinxes' improper or backwards installation. 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 one of the first German air raids 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. Restoration work was carried out in 2005. The original Master Stone Mason who worked on the granite foundation was Lambeth born William Henry Gould (1822-1891)

New York

The New York needle is in Central Park. In 1869, after the opening of the Suez Canal, Ismail Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt, first mentioned the gift of one of the obelisks to the United States in the hope of cultivating trade relations. However, it was not formally given until May 18, 1879, in a letter written by his son Tewfik Pasha. The obelisk was erected in Central Park on February 22, 1881. Railroad magnate William H. Vanderbilt financed the project and the formidable task of moving the Obelisk from Alexandria to New York was given to Henry Honychurch Gorringe, a lieutenant commander of the U.S. Navy.
The move took a decade to complete. According to Central Park’s website, the 244-ton granite needle was first shifted from vertical to horizontal, then put into the hold of the decommissioned steamship Dessoug, across the Mediterranean Sea, then over the storm-tossed Atlantic Ocean without stop. The obelisk's base rode on the deck at the stern. It took four months just to bring it from the banks of the Hudson River to Staten Island, finally arriving on 20 July 1880. The final leg of the journey was made across a specially built trestle bridge from Fifth Avenue to its new home on Greywacke Knoll, just across the drive from the then recently built Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Paris

The Paris Needle (L'aiguille de Cléopâtre) is in the Place de la Concorde. The center of the Place is occupied by the giant Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphics exalting the reign of the pharaoh Ramesses II. It once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple. The viceroy of Egypt, Mehemet Ali, presented the 3,300-year-old Luxor Obelisk to France in 1826. King Louis-Philippe had it placed in the centre of Place de la Concorde in 1833 near the spot where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had been guillotined in 1793. Given the technical limitations of the day, transporting it was difficult — on the pedestal are diagrams explaining the machinery used for its transportation. The red granite column rises 23 metres high, including the base, and weighs over 250 tonnes. Missing its original cap, believed stolen in the 6th century BC, in 1998 the government of France added a goldleafed pyramid cap to the top of the obelisk. The obelisk is flanked by two fountains constructed at the time of its erection on the Place.
Since the Paris obelisk was already described as "l'Aiguille de Cléopâtre" by 1877, before either the London or New York needles were erected, it appears to be the origin of the nickname. However, it is now more often referred to more formally as the "the Luxor Obelisk".

(Source Wikipedia)