After antique Egyptian obelisque
Engraving. 715 x 506 mm
Inventory number: E1327
Works, relating to this work: Obeliscus Augusti, 6. cent. BC, Piazza Montecitorio, RomeEnlarge photo
The Romans’ fascination with Egyptian culture meant among other things that many obelisks were imported from Egypt to Rome. The enormous stone pillars weighing several tons were transported along the Nile and on over the Mediterranean in special large cargo vessels. This copperplate print shows one of these imported obelisks. It was originally made for Pharaoh Psamtek II (595-589 BC) and set up at Heliopolis in Egypt. But after the conquest of Egypt in 31 BC, Octavian, the later Emperor Augustus, ordered the obelisk to be transported to Rome. There it was set up on the Campus Martius, where it functioned as the pointer in a colossal sundial. The obelisk later collapsed, but in 1789-1792 it was restored and re-erected on the Piazza Montecitorio. The print shows how it looked around the end of the eighteenth century.