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On an Anthill in Aswan
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Rick and Wyle put up frame Assisted by the "Happy Gang," as they have styled the enthusiastic laborers, Wyle and Rick Brown (center) begin erecting the timber framing on the obelisk. Just getting the huge pieces of timber up onto the obelisk proved challenging, as the Browns and Abdel Aleem, who directs the laborers, cannot speak one another's language. As Wyle Brown told me before they started, "The trick is how to keep everything in control without offending Abdel!" But it went off without a hitch, and as I write this the framework is now in position on the obelisk, ready for the rotation.

Roger's project The Anastasi Papyrus, one of the few ancient sources that mentions how the Egyptians might have erected large monuments, states: "It is said to thee: Empty the magazine that has been loaded with sand under the monument of thy Lord, which has been brought from the Red Mountain." Based on this and other evidence, Roger Hopkins is one of many who believe that the Egyptians raised their obelisks by tilting them into enormous compartments of sand. As they slowly released the sand from a small door at ground level, they could guide the smoothly descending obelisk into its turning groove, after which they would pull it erect with ropes. Here, Hopkins (in white shirt) oversees the building of a mudbrick compartment he'll use to test the theory with the two-ton obelisk.

Mark, Denys, Roger test drill Denys Stocks, middle, bears down on a large copper drill bit as Hopkins and Mark Lehner operate the bow drill. While other members of the team have busied themselves with the obelisk project, Stocks and his crew of Egyptian laborers have experimented with copper tools that the ancients are thought to have utilized. In a week's time, both the bow drill and a copper saw, relying on the quartzite in sand to do the actual cutting, have sliced down about an inch into solid granite. "There's a one-to-three loss of copper versus granite, but nevertheless, it proves that it can be done," said Stocks, who has studied and tested ancient Egyptian tools for more than two decades.

Tomorrow: We will finish preparations for raising the obelisk, which might begin in the afternoon—again, inshallah.

Peter Tyson is Online Producer of NOVA.



Obelisk Raised! (September 12)
In the Groove (September 1)
The Third Attempt (August 27)
Angle of Repose (March 25)
A Tale of Two Obelisks (March 24)
Rising Toward the Sun (March 23)
Into Position (March 22)
On an Anthill in Aswan (March 21)
Ready to Go (March 20)
Gifts of the River (March 19)
by Camel to a Lost Obelisk (March 18)
The Unfinished Obelisk (March 16)
Pulling Together (March 14)
Balloon Flight Over Ancient Thebes (March 12)
The Queen Who Would Be King (March 10)
Rock of Ages (March 8)
The Solar Barque (March 6)
Coughing Up an Obelisk (March 4)



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