Cleopatra’s Needle is one of two ancient Egyptian obelisks built to honor Pharaoh Thutmose III in 1443 BC. They were built to celebrate the thirtieth year of his reign, also called his third jubilee. The obelisks originally stood in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis. The majority of the hieroglyphic inscriptions were added about two hundred years later by Ramesses II. Ramesses also had another pair of obelisks built around that time. The term Cleopatra’s Needle is actually a misleading nickname as the obelisks were built over a thousand years before she was even born. No one seems to know where the nickname came from.
The obelisks stood in front of the Temple of the Sun for 900 years until the city was sacked by the Persians and the obelisks were toppled and burned, leaving some damage. A few hundred years later they were moved to Alexandria where they were raised in front of another temple, the Ceasarium. It was during this time that the Romans added the replica sea crabs at each corner of the base. The Ceasarium eventually crumbled into the harbor and in the year 1301 AD Alexandria was hit with an earthquake knocking one of the obelisks on its side. It stayed that way for almost 600 years.
In the spring of 1877, Henry Honeychurch Gorringe arrived in Alexandria’s harbor for ship repairs. While Gorringe was in Alexandria, he visited the obelisk. Its twin had already been moved to London two years earlier and he wanted this one in New York. When he returned to America he talked to the press about the idea and eventually William Henry Vanderbilt had provided the finances necessary for the move. It was now in the hands of the diplomats.
In 1879, the Khedive of Egypt officially gifted Cleopatra’s needle to the City of New York in a letter. After a very long and difficult journey from Alexandria, the obelisk was presented on February 22, 1881 in Central Park. Now both obelisks had been removed from Egypt, the first sent to London and the second now in New York City. A little over a year later, the mummy of Thutmose III was found in the Valley of the Kings.
Wikipedia has a translation of the hieroglyphics on all four sides of the obelisk
Oh and that other famous stone I was referring to? The Rosetta Stone.
I send postcards with my photos on them. You figure out the location from the clues in the message.