all seen them standing tall and proud at the center of Rome's great piazzas
and even the smallest of our kids know they are Egyptian -- look at those
hieroglyphics! But usually we stand there befuddled, wondering how they
got from the banks of the Nile to the banks of the Tiber. The simple answer
is that most of the known monumental obelisks in Rome were stolen and brought
to Rome by ancient Romans -- archeological looting started early. After
serving their initial purposes, they fell down when Rome declined and were
set up again (none of them in their original location) starting in the
Renaissance. Two obelisks in the Villa Torlonia on Via Nomentana were made
in Italy and erected in 1840. There are two 20th century obelisks in Rome.
One, in the Foro Italico (formerly the Foro Mussolini) sports complex,
was raised in 1932 and dedicated to Mussolini and is shaped to represent
the Fasci. The other, in EUR and dedicated to Guglielmo Marconi, which
was begun in 1938 but not erected until 1959 when EUR was completed, has
the standard shape but is not monolithic. The Axum Obelisk, brought to
Italy in 1937 after Mussolini's Fascists conquered Ethiopia, is still the
subject of diplomatic wrangling.
The stories of all of the Roman
obelisks are on the Internet at:
13 Obelisks -- the good
Smith Dictionary -- Obeliscus
Lacus Curtius search --
detailed descriptions of the major obelisks. Type obelisk in the "query"
And, NOVA finally gets