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Location: Victoria Embankment, London, England
Pharaoh: Tuthmosis III (reigned 1504-1450 B.C.)
Height: 69 feet
Weight: 187 tons
Story: The British first began to consider appropriating this obelisk, which had originally stood in the Temple of the Sun in Heliopolis, after the French were defeated at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801. But it was not until the 1870s, when the soldier-turned-writer General James Alexander took up the cause, that serious efforts were made to collect it. After much negotiation and preliminary work, "Cleopatra's Needle"—as this and its companion, now in New York, were dubbed—was loaded aboard a special barge and towed to England.

Disaster struck in the Bay of Biscay, when a gale separated the barge, the Cleopatra, from its mother ship, the Olga. In their attempt to secure the barge to the Olga, a number of seamen were lost, and the barge was finally set adrift. Coming upon it on the high seas, a Glasgow steamer towed it into port. In January 1878, the Cleopatra was finally pulled up the Thames and moored near the Houses of Parliament. Eight months later, on September 13th, its precious cargo was raised on the Victoria Embankment, where it may be seen today.

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Photo: (1) Corbis/Michael Nicholson.

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