An obelisk erected at Heliopolis
by Pharaoh Psammetichus II
in the 6th century B.C. The obelisk is composed of red granite, stands 22 meters high and is covered with hieroglyphic
s. The majority of the inscriptions on the obelisk are now indecipherable, although a partial list of the Pharoah
’s many names can still be read:
"The Golden Horus 'beautifying the Two Lands,' beloved of Atum, lord of Heliopolis; the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Neferibre, beloved of Re-Harakhti; the son of his own body, who seizes the White Crown and who unites the Double Crown, Psammeticus, beloved of the Souls of Heliopolis."
The obelisk was brought to Rome in 10 B.C. by Augustus
to celebrate his victory over Cleopatra
. He had it placed at the Campus Martius
, or "Field of Mars", where he dedicated it to the sun
. Here the obelisk was used as the gnomon
of a tremendous sundial, the Horologium Divi Augusti
. The Horologium
covered a marble-paved area of 160 meters by 75 meter
s, upon which the great shadow of the obelisk indicated the season, day and hour as it traversed bronze delineators in the pavement. It stood at the Campus Martius until the eighth century A.D., when it was thrown down and broken by either an earthquake or some unknown assailant
. It was rediscovered in 1512, excavated in 1748, and was put right once more in 1789 at the Piazza di Montecitorio by Pope Pius VI
, who took the liberty of placing a symbol of his coat of arms on top of the obelisk.
The Obelisk of Psammeticus II contiues to stand at the Piazza di Montecitorio
. In 1966 the obelisk was restored once again, this time by the Italian Government.