Monday, June 23, 2008

First phase of Aksum Obelisk re-installation successfully completed


Not exactly an Ancient Egypt news, but the report is about an obelisk stolen by the Italian government of Mussolini pre World War II, its return in 2005 and its final reinstallation in its original location after 70 years.

The first phase of the re-installation works of the Aksum Obelisk, also known as Stele 2, in its original location at the World Heritage site in Aksum, Ethiopia was completed on 12 June 2008. The first of three blocks of the stele, which stands 24.3 metres high and weighs 152 tons, was successfully and smoothly mounted.

The Aksum Obelisk re-installation project, conducted by UNESCO contractor Croci Associati, is using an innovative high-technology approach, and its implementation represents a technical feat of colossal scale. The project has been prepared to ensure a zero-risk approach for the monument and the surrounding site. The successful mounting of the first block is an extremely important step confirming the soundness of the project's complex design as well as the skills of the UNESCO contractors, the construction company Lattanzi and the supervision team (Croci Associati, SPC Engineering, and MH Engineering).

The remaining two blocks will be reinstalled from 16 to 31 July 2008, one year after the start of this exceptional project.

The inauguration ceremony will take place on September 10th, the last day of the Ethiopian millennium celebrations. Photos and a press kit are available for more detailed information.

From a previous report:

The Aksum Obelisk was transported (looted) to Rome by the troops of Mussolini in 1937 and returned by the Italian Government in April 2005. Weighing 150 tons and 24 meters high, the obelisk was cut into three pieces and transported to Aksum, near its original location.

The obelisk is around 1,700 years old and has become a symbol of the Ethiopian people's identity. The significance of its return after 68 years, and the technical feat of transporting the obelisk and re-erecting it on site are on a par with other historic UNESCO projects, such as Abu Simbel, where entire Egyptian temples were removed from their original location to protect them from rising water due to the construction of the Aswan dam.

The total budget for the project is USD$2,833,985, funded by the Italian Government who also financed the transportation of the obelisk and the related studies undertaken by UNESCO in collaboration with the Ethiopian authorities and experts.

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