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Friday, 11 July 2014 10:09

The Met’s Obelisk Gets a Major Cleaning

Thutmose III thought big.

His Obelisk, however, is being treated at the level of atomic particles.

Since early May, conservators have been cleaning the Obelisk with hand-held lasers. Inch by inch, as if a magic wand were being passed over the hieroglyphs, the flecked pink granite of Aswan, Egypt, has emerged from under Manhattan’s gray pall.

The Obelisk was first erected about 3,460 years ago at Heliopolis, on the outskirts of modern Cairo, to glorify Thutmose III, a pharaoh who has been likened to Napoleon. The Romans moved it to Alexandria, from where it was transported in 1880 to New York City, as a gift from the khedives who then ruled Egypt. It was re-erected on Greywacke Knoll in Central Park in 1881.

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