Lists of obelisks published during the 19th century

Obelisks had a prominent role in the architecture and religion of ancient Egypt.[3] This list contains all known remaining ancient Egyptian obelisks.[1][2] The list does not include modern or pre-modern pseudo-Egyptian obelisks, such as the numerous Egyptian-style obelisks commissioned by Roman Emperors. The list also excludes approximately 40 known obelisk fragments, catalogued by Hiroyuki Nagase and Shoji Okamoto.[4]


The location of the extant ancient Egyptian obelisks

Only about 30 such obelisks are still in existence worldwide; figures vary between sources with different definitions of extant Egyptian obelisks.[5] For example, David Allen states there are 29 such obelisks, with more in Italy than in Egypt.[5] Only two known obelisks date prior to the New Kingdom, both of which were dedicated to the Middle Kingdom Pharaoh Senusret I. At least 22 of the known obelisks date to the New Kingdom, four date to the Late Period and one to the Ptolemaic period.

The international transportation of Egyptian obelisks dates to the Roman conquest of Egypt following the death of Cleopatra, and in modern times as Egyptian "gifts" to other major cities such as the Luxor Obelisk at the Place de la Concorde in Paris, and the Cleopatra's Needles on the Victoria Embankment and in Central Park in London and New York City respectively.[5] Only five obelisks still stand at the ruins of Ancient Egyptian temples.[4]

The largest known obelisk, the unfinished obelisk, was never erected and was discovered in its original quarry. It is nearly one-third larger than the largest ancient Egyptian obelisk ever erected (the Lateran Obelisk in Rome); if finished it would have measured around 41.75 metres (137.0 ft)[6] and would have weighed nearly 1,090 tonnes (1,200 short tons), a weight equal to about 200 African elephants.[7]

The most recent ancient obelisk to be re-erected is the 17-metre-tall Ramses II obelisk in Tahrir Square, the main city square of Cairo, having been reassembled from eight blocks discovered at Tanis in the late 19th century.[8] Dr Khaled El-Anany, Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, said, "When we go to European capitals like Rome or Paris or London, and also Washington [sic], we see that they use Egyptian obelisks in decorating their major tourist squares, so why do we not do the same?"[9]


Name Image Height (with base) Pharaoh Original location Current location Ref
Name Reign Place (since) City Sovereign state
Unfinished obelisk An obelisk 41.75 m Hatshepsut 1479 – 1458 BC Aswan (in situ) Stone Quarries, Aswan Aswan Egypt [7]
Lateran Obelisk An obelisk 32.18 m (45.70 m with base) Thutmose III / Thutmose IV 1479 – 1425 BC / 1401 – 1391 BC Karnak Lateran Palace Rome Italy [1]
Karnak obelisks of Hatshepsut An obelisk 29.56 m Hatshepsut 1479 – 1458 BC Karnak (in situ) Karnak Temple Luxor Egypt [1]
Vatican obelisk
(a.k.a. St Peter's Square obelisk or Caligula's obelisk)
An obelisk 25.5 m (41 m with base) Unknown Unknown Alexandria St. Peter's Square Vatican City Vatican City [1]
Luxor obelisks
(Luxor and Paris obelisks)
An obelisk 25.03 m and 22.83 m Ramesses II 1279–1213 BC Luxor Temple Luxor Temple (in situ) Luxor Egypt [1]
An obelisk Place de la Concorde (1833) Paris France [1]
Flaminio Obelisk
(a.k.a. Popolo obelisk)
An obelisk 24 m (36.5 m with base) Seti I / Ramesses II 1294–1279 BC / 1279–1213 BC Heliopolis Piazza del Popolo Rome Italy [1]
Obelisk of Montecitorio
(a.k.a. Solare obelisk)
An obelisk 21.79 m (33.97 m with base) Psamtik II 595–589 BC Heliopolis Piazza di Montecitorio Rome Italy [1]
Karnak obelisk of Thutmosis I An obelisk 21.20 m Thutmose I 1506–1493 BC Karnak (in situ) Karnak Luxor Egypt [1]
Cleopatra's Needles
(London and New York obelisks)
An obelisk 21.00 m Thutmose III 1479 – 1425 BC Heliopolis (via Alexandria) Victoria Embankment (1878) London United Kingdom [2]
An obelisk Central Park (1881) New York City United States [1]
Al-Masalla obelisk
(a.k.a. Al Mataraiyyah obelisk)
An obelisk 20.40 m Senusret I 1971–1926 BC Heliopolis (in situ) Al-Masalla area of Al-Matariyyah district in Heliopolis Cairo Egypt [1]
Obelisk of Theodosius
(a.k.a. Istanbul obelisk)
An obelisk 18.54 m (25.6 m with base) Thutmose III 1479 – 1425 BC Karnak Sultanahmet Square Istanbul Turkey [1]
Tahrir obelisk An obelisk 17 m Ramesses II 1279–1213 BC Tanis Tahrir Square (2020) Cairo Egypt [10][8]
Cairo Airport obelisk An obelisk 16.97 m Ramesses II 1279–1213 BC Tanis Cairo International Airport (1984) Cairo Egypt [11]
Pantheon obelisk
(a.k.a. Macuteo or Rotonda obelisk)
An obelisk 14.52 m (26.34 m with base) Ramesses II 1279–1213 BC Heliopolis Piazza della Rotonda Rome Italy [1]
Gezira obelisk An obelisk 13.5 m (20.4 m with base) Ramesses II 1279–1213 BC Tanis Gezira Island, Cairo Cairo Egypt [12]
Abgig obelisk
(a.k.a. Crocodilopolis obelisk)
An obelisk 12.70 m Senusret I 1971–1926 BC Faiyum (local area, found fallen) Abgig Faiyum Egypt [13]
Philae obelisk An obelisk 6.70 m Ptolemy IX 116–107 BC Philae (Temple of Isis) Kingston Lacy (1815) Dorset United Kingdom [1]
Boboli Obelisk An obelisk 6.34 m Ramesses II 1279–1213 BC Heliopolis (via Rome) Boboli Gardens (1790) Florence Italy [2]
Elephant and Obelisk
(a.k.a. Minerveo obelisk)
An obelisk 5.47 m (12.69 m with base) Apries 589–570 BC Sais Piazza della Minerva (Roman period, rediscovered 1665) Rome Italy [1]
Abu Simbel obelisks An obelisk 3.13 m Ramesses II 1279–1213 BC Abu Simbel (Great Temple) Nubian Museum Aswan Egypt [14]
Urbino obelisk
(a.k.a. Albani obelisk)
An obelisk 3.00 m Apries 589–570 BC Sais (via Rome) Ducal Palace Urbino Italy [2]
Poznań obelisk An obelisk 3.00 m Ramesses II 1279–1213 BC Athribis (via Berlin, 1895) Poznań Archaeological Museum (2002) Poznań Poland [15][16][17]
Matteiano obelisk
(a.k.a. Celimontana obelisk)
An obelisk 2.68 m (12.23 m with base) Ramesses II 1279–1213 BC Heliopolis Villa Celimontana Rome Italy [1]
Durham obelisk
(a.k.a. Alnwick or Algernon obelisk)
An obelisk 2.15 m Amenhotep II 1427–1401 BC unknown (within the Thebaid) Oriental Museum, University of Durham (1838) Durham United Kingdom [1][18]
Dogali obelisk
(a.k.a. Casanatese obelisk)
An obelisk 2 m (6.34 m with base) Ramesses II 1279–1213 BC Heliopolis Baths of Diocletian Rome Italy [19][20]
Abishemu obelisk An obelisk 1.25 m (1.45 m with base) Abishemu (King of Byblos) 1800s BC Temple of the Obelisks Beirut National Museum Beirut Lebanon [21]
Karnak obelisk of Seti II An obelisk 0.95 m Seti II 1203–1197 BC Karnak (in situ) Karnak Luxor Egypt [22]
Luxor obelisk An obelisk 0.95 m (original est. 3 m) Ramesses III 1186–1155 BC Karnak Luxor Museum (1923) Luxor Egypt [23]
Obelisks of Nectanebo II An obelisk 0.95 m (original est. 5.5 m) Nectanebo II 360–342 BC Hermopolis British Museum London United Kingdom [1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Joseph Bonomi the Younger (1843). Notes on Obelisks. pp. 40 v – via Hathi Trust.
  2. ^ a b c d e Gorringe, Henry Honychurch (1885). Egyptian Obelisks. Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO): Photography: The World through the Lens. John C. Nimmo – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Mark, Joshua J. (November 6, 2016). "Egyptian Obelisk". World History Encyclopedia. World History Publishing.
  4. ^ a b Hiroyuki Nagase and Shoji Okamoto, 2017, Obelisks of the World: "Although about 30 ancient obelisks are currently well maintained and stand at the public places (plaza, square, park, etc.), but only 5 remain at the ruins of Ancient Temple in Egypt. And two more obelisks stand at the public space in Egypt. So 7 obelisks in total in Egypt."
  5. ^ a b c Allen, D. (2013). How Mechanics Shaped the Modern World. Springer International Publishing. ISBN 978-3-319-01701-3. Retrieved 2022-01-23. By the way, there are 29 extant Egyptian obelisks in the world today. Nine are in Egypt, and eleven in Italy (eight of which are in Rome, having been pilfered by the Romans after Augustus defeated Antony and Cleopatra in 31 BCE, thereby conquering Egypt). Others are scattered across the world.
  6. ^ Reginald Engelbach, 1922, The Aswân Obelisk, with some remarks on ancient engineering
  7. ^ a b Bard, Kathryn (1999). Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Routledge. p. 587. ISBN 978-0-415-18589-9.
  8. ^ a b Nevine El-Aref, Sep 2019, An obelisk in Tahrir "After centuries of being scattered in eight large blocks on the sands at San Al-Haggar archaeological site in Zagazig, a 17 m-tall obelisk of King Ramses II will be restored, re-assembled and re-erected to decorate the historic Tahrir Square"
  9. ^ Machemer, Theresa (May 11, 2020). "Egypt Defies Archaeologists' Protests by Relocating Four Ancient Sphinxes". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian Institution.
  10. ^ Mira Maged, Feb 2020, Ramses II obelisk to be fully reassembled in Cairo's Tahrir Square "...with Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities having transported eight blocks of the statue unearthed in August 2019 at Zagazig, a city in Lower Egypt"
  11. ^ Flinders Petrie, Tanis, I, plate VIII (48, North Obelisk)
  12. ^ Flinders Petrie, Tanis, I, plate IX (51, North Obelisk)
  13. ^ 1809: Description de l'Égypte, IV, plate 71, Text II, ch. XVII, 43–45
  14. ^ Charles Kuentz (1932) Catalogue général des antiquités égyptiennes du Musée du Caire N°1308–1315 et 17001-17036 Obélisques, 45–50, plate XIII (Cairo Museum JE 42955 C, CG 17023 & 17024)
  15. ^ Obelisk of Ramesses II in the Museum's courtyard
  16. ^ Königliche Museen Berlin, Ägyptische und Vorderasiatische Altertümer II (1897), pl.116
  17. ^ Ausführliches Verzeichnis der Ägyptischen Altertümer (1899), pp.124–125, fig.26.
  18. ^ Cooper & Chabas 1877.
  19. ^ Kitchen, Ramesside Inscriptions, II, 483, § 183 C
  20. ^ Orazio Marucchi, 1898, Gli obelischi egiziani di Roma, page 96
  21. ^ Maurice Dunand, Fouilles de Byblos, volume 2, p. 878, no. 16980; and plate XXXII number 2
  22. ^ Kitchen, Ramesside Inscriptions, IV, 250:12–16
  23. ^ Maurice Pillet, Rapport sur les travaux de Karnak. X, "Un petit obélisque de Ramsès III." Annales Du Service Des Antiquités de L'Egypte 24 (1924): 82–3