Obelisker i Rom

Obelisker lille
Obelisker i Rom

Lise Manniche

Today, 13 obelisks stand proudly in Rome. Most of them have three tales to tell: of their past in pharaonic Egypt; of their re-use in imperial Rome; and of their new life in papal Rome. In all instances their purpose was that of disseminating propaganda.

In Egypt, obelisks were dedicated to the sun god whilst at the same time promoting the king who had them quarried and erected in the temples. In ancient Rome their context was different, but often related to a circus. As from Constantine the Great, having been crowned by a cross, they were converted into Christian symbols. Invading Goths were credited with overturning many of them, and with time they were buried and forgotten under accumulating mud.

The only obelisk that remained standing was the one by St. Peter’s. It was the popes who began taking an interest in other lost obelisks, and in the 16th and 18th centuries in particular many of the larger ones were erected in front of papal residences.

This book is useful as a manual when obelisk hunting in Rome. All hieroglyphs and Latin inscriptions are translated, and a map shows the current or past location of the obelisks.

Obelisker i Rom (in Danish)
280 pp, 137 ills.
Aarhus Universitetsforlag 2013
299 DKr

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