I was blessed and privileged to spend over a year of my life in London, England. And this is one fact I never knew…but probably should have.
There is an obelisk that stands in London on the River Thames near the Embankment Tube stop. Now I know I have passed this, probably several times, in my year in London. I walked everywhere back then.
But I don’t remember stopping to read the story (odd since I’m a tourist at heart). In fact, I don’t even remember noticing it. But I know I must have passed it.
In all honesty, if I didn’t stop and read its history it was because I assumed it was fake. Just some replica erected for some purpose.
Well, in truth, it is a real obelisk, given to London by the Egyptian ruler in 1819 and was constructed by Tuthmosis III (Eighteenth Dynasty) which would be approximately 1450 BC or almost 3500 years ago. This is a real piece of Ancient Egyptian history, standing in the middle of London, England. This obelisk was almost lost at sea during transport.
I have always loved Egypt and Egyptian history. And if Brown University had accepted me, I would have majored in Egyptology (but they didn’t).
We are doing Egypt in homeschool right now. Next week is our last week and it’s a final wrap up and I’m learning an intense amount (I’ll have to do a Rosetta Stone post separately).
What I’ve learned is one of the reasons we have so much information about Ancient Egypt is because their writing (hieroglyphics) has been preserved for so long. Why? Because of the dry climate in Egypt.
If you compare the photos of this obelisk when it first arrived in England to now, it’s a sad sight: the constant rain in England has done it’s damage. Most of the hieroglyphs are now obscured, gone to us forever, in just a mere 100 years. Sad, isn’t it?
New York City has its twin standing in Central Park in the same deteriorated condition. Paris had one as well but from a different time period (I know I’ve seen this one. I remember seeing it. But again, I never took the time to stop and find out what it was.).
In modern times, it’s a travesty. Can you imagine Egypt today giving away one of its ancient treasures? No. In fact, they are trying to get a lot of them back that have been taken from them (another story altogether).
But 200 years ago, the mind-set was completely different. And 200 years ago, no one could read hieroglyphics (this wasn’t until 1822 when the code was cracked. Another story). So the importance of these monuments was unknown.
These obelisks are even misnamed: known as Cleopatra’s Needles (when Cleopatra wasn’t born until 69 BC (1400 years after these were constructed).
It’s sad. I’m sad. I’d like to see all of these returned to Egypt and placed back where they should be before they are no more than rough limestone that appeared much as it did before being engraved.
But who am I, right?
My point: somehow I feel I should have noticed this. I should have known this. I should have been taught this. I have walked by two of the three and never paid any passing notice to them. What a shame.
I pray I have a second chance in this life; a second chance to return to these places (hopefully with my kids) and see what I had not seen. Learn what I have not learned (which is what homeschooling is doing now for me). And be where I have not been.
Some say I have lived a privileged life. I admit: I have. Not as privileged as some but definitely not as hard as most.
Somehow this all has to fit together. It has to. Still waiting though. Not for sure how long. But I am…