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Hatshepsut's Obelisk
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Architect unknown
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Location Karnak, Egypt   map
Date -1450   timeline
Building Type monument obelisk
 Construction System carved stone
Climate desert
Context temple complex
Style Ancient Egyptian
Notes monument to Queen Hatshepsut, in polished red granite, at the Temple of Karnak.
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Discussion Hatshepsut's Obelisk Commentary

“The German-American architect Mies van der Rohe wrote, echoing Flaubert, that ‘God is in the details’—an apothegm he followed in his own elegantly precise buldings. Though it is unlikely that Mies had Egyptian obelisks in mind, the adage was anticipated, long before, by the detailing of Queen Hatshepsut’s obelisk.

“Americans relish their own ‘obelisk’ to General Washington; many have seen the one that pulls together the spaces in front of Saint Peter’s in Rome (in A. D. 37, it was brought to Italy by Caligula); and the fortunate have visited the mightly obelisks in Karnak. Yet few travelers to Karnak approach Hatshepsut’s masterpiece closely enough to examine the craftsmanship and design felicity that characterize its inscriptions. (Though a heraldic feature of most ancient Egyptian temples, not all obelisks carried such peaeans to their builders.) The carving on this 97-foot- high polished red granite shaft is almost jewel-like in its precision.…

“The Temple of Karnak itself is largely in ruins, but its 3,450-year-old obelisk remains to remind us of the brilliance of ancient Egyptian culture.”

— from G.E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. p12.

Resources
Sources on Hatshepsut's Obelisk

G. E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3556-2. LC 90-30728. NA200.S57 1990. discussion, photo of obelisk at center, in context, p12. Detail photo showing inscriptions, p13.

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