From the ancient Egyptians to modern interior designers, obelisks have been a fan favorite for thousands of the years. The ancient Egyptian used obelisks to flank their temple and the ultra chic 1970s British designer David Hicks used them to add stature to his famous tablescapes, giving obelisks the ultimate decorative pedigree. The ancient Egyptians carved these 100 foot tall monoliths out of rock in the ground by pounding away at the granite with other hard rocks to carve out a trench. Once the trench around all sides of the obelisk was completed, workers would tunnel under the obelisk to free it from the earth. The stone, weighing hundreds of tons, would be hauled to the banks of the Nile and sailed to a temple site.
The cult of the obelisk started with the Romans who were infatuated with everything Egyptian. After subsuming Egypt into their Empire, they began to move things around – things like obelisks – the Romans moved so many obelisks that today there are more Ancient Egyptian obelisks in Rome than anywhere else in the world. Later the French and the British also became fascinated with Egyptian culture – in the late 1880s, Paris, London and New York all could boost of their own Egyptian obelisk. And while we’re no longer moving ancient objects around the globe, the obelisk is still a symbol of another culture and another time. It’s also happens to be the perfect object to add height to a coffee table or a bookshelf. Check below for some obelisk inspiration.
The Obelisk of Ramessess II in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo by Benson Kua.