The Unfinished Obelisk
Lying in Aswan’s Northern Quarry, where it has been since work was abandoned on it during ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom, is the monolith known as the Unfinished Obelisk. It is still uncertain which Pharaoh commissioned this particular obelisk, though most scholars seem to agree on Hatshepsut, work on hewing it from the granite was abandoned when a huge crack appeared in it. Impressive it would have been as well, weighing in at around 1,200 tons and with a height of approximately 137 feet (42 metres), easily breaking the record of the oldest standing Egyptian obelisk today: the Lateran Obelisk weighing in at a mere 455 tons and only 122 feet (37 metres) tall (this obelisk stands in the square across from the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran and the San Giovanni Addolorata Hospital in Laterano, Rome).
Now a major tourist attraction, with the site renovated to allow visitors to gaze at the red granite monument, it has also been a huge asset to archaeologists, as tools found around the obelisk, as well as marks made by these tools, show how the ancient Egyptians quarried granite: one of the world’s hardest stones!
As well as obelisks, the Aswan Granite quarries were also used for the red, grey and black granite used in all of the sarcophagi, burial chambers, ancient temples and colossi, in ancient Egypt, as well as the outer casing stones on the lower part of Menkaure’s Pyramid.