Obelisks: We've 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:

Roman obelisks:

Chasing obelisks:

13 Obelisks -- the good old boys:

Smith Dictionary -- Obeliscus

Lacus Curtius search -- detailed descriptions of the major obelisks. Type obelisk in the "query" box:

And, NOVA finally gets one up: