The Transporting of the Obelisks at Karnak Part I

By Admiral G.A. Ballard, published September 1920


Among the ruins of Karnak stand 3 great granite obelisks, quarried 140 miles away16 centuries BC. Their conveyance along the Nile was the greatest operation in the way of handling heavy weights afloat ever carried out before the 19th century. Here Admiral Ballard considers the available evidence from inscriptions and conjectures as to the vessel that would have been required. Cleopatra’s needle was brought to England in 1877 inside a specially constructed iron pontoon towed behind a steamer. The 2 largest obelisks at Karnak weigh twice as much, are 30 to 40 feet longer and were moved without access to such technology. Illustrations suggest that a very large lighter was used to move the 370 ton obelisks, but as this article shows, a lighter the size of HMS Victory would have been required for the purpose. To be continued.

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Filed under: Antiquity | Internal Waterways
Subjects include: Archaeology | Art & Music | Logistics | Miscellaneous

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