Cleopatra’s Needle- An Ancient Egyptian Obelisk

Located directly behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park is an ancient Egyptian Obelisk, known as Cleopatra’s Needle.  In the 15th century BCE, nearly 3500 years ago, Cleopatra’s Needle was carved out of a single piece of pink granite.  The obelisk was commissioned by Thutmose III who planned for its placement outside a temple in the ancient Egyptian city of Heliopolis.

For nearly 1000 years Cleopatra’s Needle remained standing in Heliopolis until an invasion by the Persian Empire (in 525 BCE) had it toppled and possibly set ablaze.  This powerful testament of Thutmose III’s reign was seemingly forgotten for another 500 years when Emperor Caesar Augustus discovered it half buried in sand.  Augustus had the obelisk transported to the City of Alexandria, where it stood until the 19th century.  In 1880 Cleopatra’s Needle began its long journey to its current location in Central Park.

Our conservation team has been working diligently to preserve the hieroglyphs that give us insight into a 3500-year-old civilization.  We will be working on-sight through October, we encourage everyone to come by and see our work!