TV Broadcast May 19, 1998 (check local listings)
Live Web Event, May 19, 1998 at 9 pm Eastern
Obelisks were markers of time and place, raised by late Egyptian
pharaohs in commemoration of anniversaries, victories, and the favor
bestowed on them by the gods. They seem outwardly as simple and apparent
as their stark planes, but the quarrying, transport and raising of a
megalith that weighs as much as 450 tons proves to be as complex as the
babble of hieroglyphs that adorn the obelisks' faces.
For this experiment, Egyptologist Mark Lehner joined Massachusetts
stonemason Roger Hopkins in search of ancient clues in the original
quarries far up the Nile at Aswan. There they confronted one of
history's great failures, the Unfinished Obelisk of Aswan, doomed by
rock flaws to remain only partially sculpted out of the pink granite.
From this failure the team tried to learn how the massive shafts of
granite were cut from the rock, dragged to the Nile, loaded on barges
and shipped down the river. With the help of ancient technology buff
Martin Isler and Egyptian monument expert Ali el Gasab, the team ran
straight into the engineering obstacles that stand in the way of raising
a massive yet delicate needle of stone to upright stability.
Our team failed the first time. But they're going back to give it one more try. Does someone out
there have the method that will help them succeed?
On May 19, Mark Lehner responded to questions during a live event, and to additional questions
e-mailed to this Web site the following day. Check out the
archived questions and answers.
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