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On This Day… New York’s Oldest Artefact!

Written by: George Chittenden : 07 Jul 2019

It was on this day, 22nd February, back in 1881 when thousands of New Yorkers gathered to see Cleopatra’s Needle being assembled in Central Park. The 3,500-year-old obelisk from Ancient Egypt is New York’s oldest artefact. It is one of three, re-erected in London, Paris, and New York.

Interestingly, England were originally given their needle in 1801 as a gift for helping Egypt oust Napoleon. America’s needle and England’s needle are a pair and were originally erected by Thutmose III at Heliopolis in about 1,460 BC and were later moved to Alexandria. Transporting the obelisk to America was a huge task, as the largest item to sail in the hold of a ship at that point was a one-hundred-ton cannon, and the obelisk weighed nearly twice that!

Thankfully the month-long sea-journey from Alexandria was a success, and Cleopatra’s Needle arrived in America in July 1880. It then took a further five months to transport the artefact to Central Park.

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