Public Art: Obelisk of Theodosius
Also Known As: Tuthmosis III Obelisk
Date: The obelisk was first erected at the Great Temple of Karnak in Egypt between 1479–1425 BC .
Description: The 19.6m Aswan red granite obelisk was originally outside the Great Temple of Karnak in Egypt. It was originally 30m high but the lower section was damaged during transportation. On each face of the obelisk are inscriptions. They all are dedicated to Thutmose III’s victory over the Mitanni in 1450 BC.
If you look carefully you will notice four bronze cubes between the four corners. They were used to transport and erect the enormous structure.
Location: Obelisk of Theodosius is located at At Meydanı or Sultanahmet Meydanı in Istanbul, Turkey.
Inscriptions on Pedestal:
DIFFICILIS QVONDAM DOMINIS PARERE SERENISIVSSVS ET EXTINCTIS PALMAM PORTARE TYRANNISOMNIA THEODOSIO CEDVNT SVBOLIQVE PERENNITER DENIS SIC VICTVS EGO DOMITVSQVE DIEBVSIVDICE SVB PROCLO SVPERAS ELATVS AD AVRAS
“Though formerly I opposed resistance, I was ordered to obey the serene masters and to carry their palm, once the tyrants had been overcome. All things yield to Theodosius and to his everlasting descendants. This is true of me too – I was mastered and overcome in three times ten days and raised towards the upper air, under governor Proculus.”
KIONA TETPAΠΛEYPON AEI XΘONI KEIMENON AXΘOCMOYNOC ANACTHCAI ΘEYΔOCIOC BACIΛEYCTOΛMHCAC ΠPOKΛOC EΠEKEKΛETO KAI TOCOC ECTHKIΩN HEΛIOIC EN TPIAKONTA ΔYO
“This column with four sides which lay on the earth, only the emperor Theodosius dared to lift again its burden; Proclus was invited to execute his order, and this great column stood up in 32 days.”
Background to the Obelisk of Theodosius: The pair of obelisks were first erected outside the Great Temple of Karnak in Egypt between 1479–1425 BC during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III. They stood near the seventh pillar of the temple.
In 357AD Roman emperor, Constantius II had one of the pair removed and then shipped it along the Nile to Alexandria. The other obelisk was taken to Rome and erected in the Circus Maximus. That obelisk is now known as the Lateran Obelisk.
In 390 Theodosius I (379–395 AD) had the Alexandria Obelisk transported to Constantinople and erected in the Hippodrome. It was to be known as Obelisk of Theodosius.
Where are all the ancient Egyptian obelisks?
It is believed that there are 29 ancient Egyptian obelisks still standing, more than half of which are scattered around the world.
Pharaoh Tuthmosis I, Karnak Temple, Luxor
Pharaoh Ramses II, Luxor Temple
Pharaoh Hatshepsut, Karnak Temple, Luxor
Pharaoh Senusret I, Al-Masalla area of Al-Matariyyah district in Heliopolis, Cairo
Pharaoh Ramses III, Luxor Museum
Pharaoh Ramses II, Gezira Island, Cairo
Pharaoh Ramses II, Cairo International Airport
Pharaoh Seti II, Karnak Temple, Luxor
Pharaoh Senusret I, Faiyum (ancient site of Crocodilopolis)
Pharaoh Ramses II, Luxor Obelisk, in Place de la Concorde, Paris
Pharaoh Tuthmosis III / Tuthmosis IV,” Lateranense”, Piazza di San Giovanni , Laterano, Rome
Pharaoh unknown, “vaticano”, Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City
Pharaoh Seti I / Ramses II, “Flaminio”, Piazza del Popolo, Rome
Pharaoh Psammetichus II, “Solare”, Piazza di Montecitorio, Rome
Pharaoh Ramses II, “Macuteo”, Piazza della Rotonda, Rome
Pharaoh Apries, “Minerveo”, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome
Pharaoh Ramses II, “Gogali”, Baths of Diocletian, Rome
Pharaoh Ramses II, “Matteiano”, Villa Celimontana, Rome
Pharaoh unknown, Piazza del Duomo, Catania (Sicily)
Pharaoh unknown, Boboli Gardens (Florence)
Pharaoh unknown, Urbino Obelisco di Benevento
Pharaoh Ramses II, Poznan Archaeological Museum, Poznan (on loan from Agyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, Berlin)
Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, in Square of Horses, Istanbul
Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, “Cleopatra’s Needle“, on Victoria Embankment, London
Pharaoh Amenhotep II, in the Oriental Museum, University of Durham
Pharaoh Ptolemy IX, Philae obelisk, at Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne Minster, Dorset
Pharaoh Nectanebo II, British Museum, London (pair of obelisks)
Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, “New York Needle”, in Central Park, New York