Evidence of weathering on the obelisk in NYC. Known weathering rates of granites in different climates are compared with weathering damage on Cleopatra's Needle, an Egyptian obelisk in Central Park, New York City. ... It is concluded that the bulk of damage on the obelisk actually occurred in Egypt through rising moisture loaded with sulfate salts.
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 obelisks in London and New York are a pair; the one in Paris is also part of a pair originally from a different site in Luxor, where its twin remains. Although all three needles are genuine Ancient Egyptian obelisks, their shared nickname is a misnomer, as they have no connection with the Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and were already over a thousand years old in her lifetime. An earlier reference states Queen Cleopatra brought the London obelisk from Heliopolis to Alexandria shortly before the time of Christ for the purpose of decorating a new temple but it was never erected and lay buried in sand on the shore until presented to the British nation in 1819. The London and New York needles were originally made during the reign of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Thutmose III. The Paris needle dates to the reign of the 19th Dynasty Pharaoh Ramesses II, and was the first to be moved and re-erected. The New York needle was the first to acquire the French nickname, "L'aiguille de Cléopâtre", when it stood in Alexandria. -Wikipedia
Most visitors to New York City travel right past it, never noticing the majesty of Egypt's New Kingdom in the new world. Cleopatra's Needle resides in NYC immediately adjacent to Central Park; there's nothing like it throughout the entire city landscape.
It is an obelisk, and it was used by the ancient Egyptians to commemorate Dynastic achievement; for the Romans, it was used to acknowledge a superior foe defeated in combat.
Most obelisk's weigh hundreds of tons, there are 28 Egyptian obelisk's standing today, only 6 of them remain in Egypt. Rome possesses 11 and many more remain scattered throughout the littoral Mediterranean. Three of the most famous are in New York, Paris, and London.
The obelisks's in Paris, New York, and London were all moved two times before landing where they now reside. The previous author of these said obelisk's was Emperor Augustus himself.
Egyptian technology was extremely primitive, possessing only bronze chisels from which to work limestone used to build the pyramids, they had absolutely no metal tools capable of dealing with far harder granite from which obelisk's were quarried. Egyptian dynasties used dolerite balls (an igneous rock very much shaped and used like bowling balls) to pound the surrounding granite of a future obelisk. Working 12 hour days, a quarryman could lower a trench around the obelisk nearly an inch a day. Taking six months to separate sides from the quarried obelisk, the harder part was freeing the bottom, this was done by pounding sideways.
The world's foremost authority on obelisk's is Bob Brier, his book Cleopatra's Needles is now out from Bloomsbury. Here you discover how the Egyptians, Romans, Renaissance Vatican engineers and new world plutocrats moved these lovely megaliths.
A 51 year old book collector and librarian named Abdel Kader Haidara lives in the fabled city of Timbuktu, an ancient city in West Africa called Mali. In April of 2012 having returned home from a brief trip to Europe, he witnessed the envelopment of his city from al-Qaeda and its African affiliates throughout the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM); panicked knowing the cities libraries would soon be plundered he grabbed the nearest phone and called The Ford Foundation in Nigeria. The game was on to rescue Islamic manuscripts from an ever encroaching black flag.
The Ford Foundation knew of Mr. Haidara because of a grant he was given to pursue studies at Oxford, he called pleading that the committee find a way to transfer that money for the purchasing of empty oil barrels, donkeys, carts and petty cash.
Three days later, the monies flowed and Haidara was off, secretly finding trustworthy fellow travelers in secretly identifying the manuscripts, packaging them for release. . .
The goal was to disperse all 400,000 manuscripts. . .
Metal and wooden trunks, empty oil barrels and carts arrived at nearly 80 a day, packed tight and released to strangers. . .
In the course of 8 months, his Mamma Haidara Commemorative Library and other were empty. . .
The smuggling was enormous, quiet and ruthlessly efficient.
By January of 2013, upon the arrival of French troops in Mali, the smuggling operation was over. . . And the process of return completed with national honor.
Read The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, by Joshua Hammer, out by Simon & Schuster
For Further Reading:
THE MAMMA HAIDARA MEMORIAL LIBRARY
NPR INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: THE BRAVE SAGE OF TIMBUKTU
WSJ: SAVING CULTURAL TREASURES
THE 2014 AFRICA PRIZE
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
The ancient Egyptians understood how to measure a sphere. They did so with a plumb line across great distances only to acknowledge that space is curved. The Ptolemy's (Macedonians in Egypt like Cleopoatra) were masters of geometry, they were the first one's to hypothesize about the size of the Earth and that it was a sphere. Of course they referenced Aristotle's acknowledgment of discovering Elephants in both Africa and India. This was Aristotle's first empirical observation that the Earth was in fact round! Aristotle travelled with Alexander The Great in his ambition to forever thwart Persia, he died somewhere in the borderlands between modern day Pakistan and India.
Nevertheless, France organized a scientific mission in 1735 to arrive at the Equator and measure the Earth.
The key to the shape of the planet was discovering the width of one degree latitude measured at the equator.
In 1735 a mission was organized by the French Academy of Sciences to fit explorers arriving in South America to accomplish this adventure. France was so eager to accomplish this exploration that it spent millions of dollars to obtain this very number.
The practical implication of this number is incalculable: it would help maintain accuracy in cartography, therefore assist in accurate navigation of the seas. It was instrumental in forging France into an Empire, unrivaled.
Newton's recently published theory of mechanics (physics) stipulated that the spinning earth would resemble more of an apple than a sphere, wider at the equator and flatter at the poles. For if the earth were a perfect sphere, then a degree latitude would be everywhere perfect.
To establish the width of one degree latitude at the equator would require thousands of measurements from positions not easily accessible.
Base camp was Quito, Ecuador.
The 200 mile arch that the scientists choose to survey traveled across a line of volcanoes in the Andes, each of which they had to climb. They camped at altitudes of 15,000 feet for months at a time, battling subzero temperatures and coping with altitude sickness while waiting for skies to clear. Good weather was essential for measurements required the use of known astronomy. There were 40 members assigned to this trip with over 200 slaves.
Many resident colonials, not understanding the mission or even what science was, took the French foreigners for smugglers. In South America of that time, all smugglers were believed to be Jews, practicing Judaism was punishable by death, the local head of the Inquisition took great interest in the travelers.
After nine long years of measuring the ground and the stars, the team of scientists finally triumphed in 1743. They now possessed the magic number of 68.70 miles for one degree latitude on the equator, as compared with 69.07 miles in Paris.
With the arrival of the War of Austrian Succession, England and Spain had drawn themselves into war against France, each member of the team had to make his own way home.
The first scientist to arrive in Paris was Pierre Bouguer, second was Charles Marie de La Condamine, who actually rode down the Amazon before crossing the Atlantic, he would later return and publish his findings in 1751.
The teams doctor, named Joseph de Jussieu didn't have the heart to leave behind the many people he came into contact with, especially those working in a silver mine that used mercury in separating ore, required his medical attention. He finally returned home to France after 36 years from the arrival of Pierre Bouguer.
The last to arrive was Jean Baptise Godin des Odonais who arrived in France 36 years after departing. He married a local women named Isabel yet were barred by Portuguese authorities from reentering Brazil to bring her home to France. They waited for one another 21 years in the Amazon, when he arrived dozens of miles upstream to discover her and bring her home to France. The year was 1773!
The Geodesic Mission of 1735 is chronicled by Larrie Ferreiro in "Measure of the Earth" Basic Books 2010.