With the khamasin buffeting his model, Mark
Whitby talks about the procedure he'll follow for raising the obelisk.
Ready to Go
by Peter Tyson
March 20, 1999
Update on obelisk-raising: The khamasin, a dry, hot wind that blows in from
the Western Desert, struck this morning, curtailing all filming at Hamada
Rashwan's quarry. Khamasin means "50" in Arabic, because the wind can blow
for 50 days, but as I write it has already let up, and tomorrow we should be
back at the quarry.
Despite the wind, which made Aswan a dust bowl today, work went on preparing
the wooden framework that will hang off the butt end of the obelisk and that
workers will use to pull the obelisk down onto its pedestal; the framework may
be fitted onto the shaft tomorrow. All chiseling of the obelisk has finished,
and the stonemasons have gone home. We're all but ready to begin the attempt.
This afternoon, Mark Whitby, whose firm designed the obelisk-raising
procedure that we will follow starting Monday or Tuesday, demonstrated the
procedure for the benefit of the team using a wooden model.
Ever since we arrived in Aswan a week ago, Denys Stocks, an expert in ancient
Egyptian tools, has been hard at work cutting granite using copper saws and
bow drills—equipment the ancients themselves likely used. Tomorrow, as work
continues to prepare the obelisk for rotation, we'll take a look at his