Archived Articles

Obelisks Of Ancient Egypt,
Land Of The Sun Worshipers
And The Obelisk In Edgar
Cayce's Aura Chart
"I am yesterday, today, and tomorrow...
There is not a day devoid of that which belongeth to it...
The present time is the path which I have opened."
The Egyptian Book of the Dead

The story of the nineteenth century discoverers of ancient Egypt is a fascinating one.

But the tale of Egypt found in the Edgar Cayce readings is an even more compelling one, as it correlates directly with the recent lives of Edgar Cayce and a host of fellow souls who - according to the theory of reincarnation espoused in Cayce's readings - had once existed with him in an earlier Egypt. This latter story is told in Edgar Cayce's Egypt ,* an admirable compendium of extracts of nearly all of Cayce's psychic readings -- one that portrays an undiscovered Egypt of around 12,500 years ago.

Editors of the A.R.E. Press, 2004, Edgar Cayce's Egypt, A.R.E. Press, Virginia Beach, VA, 238 pp.

Now since once walking the stairs to the top of The Washington Monument I have always been interested in how and why obelisks were constructed in ancient Egypt. But I could not find the word "obelisk" listed in the index for the A.R.E. Press' book of Cayce's readings on the subject of ancient Egypt. This led me to investigate the subject while visiting the reading room of The Oriental Institute of The University of Chicago in May of 2007. The essential result of that visit can be found in the extract at the end, as transcribed from A Short History of the Egyptian Obelisks, by W. R. Cooper (1877).

After reading the first 14 pages of Cooper's book, and conveying them here for your edification, I thought I'd better just check for the word "obelisk" in the CD-ROM that holds all of the Edgar Cayce readings. It was there that I found four references to the word. The first of these is found in a reading given for the painting of Edgar Cayce's personal aura chart. An aura chart is described in this extract from reading 5746-1, which reading also contains the word obelisk {rendered here in bold font}.  

As we have given, an aura chart is the attempt to interpret the material experiences of individuals in their journeys through the earth; indicating, pictorially, as to that place in the earth of the individual activity, and - upon either the right or the left - the sources from which the entity came into activity in the earthly or material consciousness. About same is symbolized, in the signs of the zodiac, as to that portion of body which was stressed through that particular period of activity.

By color certain activities are also symbolized, - for instance, black indicates the whole combination of all. For, to material interpretation, white is the absence of color, black is the combination of them all. The dark blue indicates awakening; purple, healing; white, purity; gold, attaining. All of these and their varied shades indicate the activity; this applying to the stars as well as the sun or moon. The sun indicates strength and life, while the moon indicates change - and in one direction indicating the singleness of that activity through an individual experience, - the variations being indicated by the variations in the color. Star, - the white, purity; the five-pointed, the whole senses of man indicated as attained to activity - the colors showing the variation; the forms of six, seven or eight pointed indicating the attainments, - as do the seven stars in a figure indicate the attaining to the seven particular centers in the body. As for the whole chart, - the interpretation is more up to the artist - as to its beauty. The study of the meaning of Aries, Sagittarius, Pisces, Libra, or any or all of such phases, would indicate the activity of the individual. For, remember, it is body manifestation, - some the feet, some the head, some the thigh, some the groin, some the bowels, some the breast, - some one and some another, see? these indicating the ACTIVITY of the individual. Ready for questions.

(Q) Please consider the drawing of the Temple Beautiful, which I hold in my hand, as interpreted by the artist from information given through this channel, and give such suggestions and corrections as may be necessary to help her to draw such when the aura chart calls for same.
(A) This is very good. The figure, or the obelisk upon which the light is put, should be more in the shape of a six-sided figure than merely a spire. It is not the attempt, in the building of the Temple Beautiful, to indicate a spire but as a source of light through which that activity in the Temple aided the individuals as there was the activity or passivity through the periods of cleansing or purification of those necessary influences, of lack of influences, in the individual entity.


With the above reading as a reference, here is the part of Edgar Cayce's personal aura-chart reading that contains instructions for an artist who would construct same. This extract contains the word obelisk, but it is not at all clear just what the meaning might be of "the crystal in the top."

Upon the left, in the lower portion, put the symbol of the sun. Upon the right put the symbol of the earth. Each of these would be in white and green; even the sun would be in the light green with the white and gold center.

Above this indicate a mountain, and the symbol or sign that is the symbol of Gemini - or the two-bodied figure, or united bodies as a figure (small), on the edge of this mountain. The vegetation here would be very verdant, in the central portion; this shading off to the left in that as of the temple, - or the crystal, or an obelisk with the crystal in the top. This, to be sure, would not be too large a figure; with many figures at worship about the light that comes from this obelisk. On the right side would be the fields with laborers in chains or bonds. This, to be sure, would indicate the period in Atlantis when there was the separation of the sexes indicated among things, or the thought-figures or bodies; those that had caught the vision and those still kept in bondage.


An additional reading contains the word obelisk. Once again, the reading contains a set of instructions for an artist's rendering of an aura chart.

In the central portion would be the Nile, or the waterway. Between this and the pyramids would be foliage or life, - the reeds and the flower of the flax as well as the lotus indicated, as from the edge of the waters upon either side. The trees would be in the distance, not close to the foreground, but the waterway would be coming to the right side, though not to the right end of the drawing. Across the river would be an obelisk, or as of a figure design upon which would be the characters of the ancient Egyptian drawings or writings. Especially would be indicated the hawked figure or hawked god, - the sacred oxen, also the scarab; with the figure of the oxen drawing the scow or plow. This upon either side would be indicated in the golden figures, but the light still coming from the right side of the drawing.

Upon the left side of this put the sign of Mercury, with the four figures of the zodiac about same - of Aries, these small but black, blue-black; while the sign of Mercury would be white. Upon the right side put the symbol of Venus, in green and gold. About this put the four signs of Pisces, - this as the sign rather than the symbol - but these small, as would be Aries on the left; also in blue-black. These would indicate the entity's interest in the activities of the Egyptian land, not only as indicated those who were the god worshipers but the sun worshipers, as well as of environment, heredity, AND the growth - or life - as indicated by the light and shadows, as well as the figures themselves. And the application of the entity would be indicated in the signs and symbols and their colors and vibrations that made for the development of the entity through that experience. Above this, represented in the center as the pastoral scene, would be the shepherd of a flock; this indicating a period of the Master's walk in the earth. In this there would be at least twenty-two sheep, with the Master in the foreground with the shepherd's crook, and also indicated by the halo above the head. Upon the left would be the cave, or at the birth of the Master. This would indicate the Mother, the Child; one figure of a sheep and one of an oxen; and a child or maiden pleading to the Mother to let her hold the Babe. This would not be too subdued in color, but as the light of ALL emanating from the figure of the Child itself; though ABOVE the cave would be HIS star. This would not only indicate the brilliance but the light FROM same pointing to the Manger.


Note that reading 1152-14 was given for a woman (Ms. 1152) who in her Palestine incarnation had been the second in line to hold the Babe. In an earlier incarnation she had been a priestess on Atlantis, one who had helped many to escape to far off lands prior to the final destruction of Poseidia, the last island of Atlantis to sink beneath the waves (so say the readings).

One can read below the first 14 or so pages of a book by W.R. Cooper on the history of Egyptian obelisks. At the end of Chapter III of Cooper's book we find this Egyptologist's overview of the obelisks of Egypt.

It is in itself a remarkable peculiarity of everything connected with the worship of the Ancient Egyptians, that it had its rise long prior to the genesis of Classic history; that it existed in full power contemporaneously with the theologies of India, Greece, Etruria, and Rome, and that it, overlapping Christianity itself, only ceased to become venerated when all material worship had been swept away; neither the philosophy of Plato, nor the atheism of Cicero could influence beyond a certain limit the term of the Egyptian mythology; it still awed the mixed multitudes in Alexandria under the sway of the Caesars, as it had done the ancient Egyptians, "the pure men," as they called themselves in the time of Menes and Athothes; the tributes of distant countries were still brought by the Ptolemies to the shrine of Tum, as they had been a thousand years before by Rameses III., and Alexander and Darius paid homage to Amen-Ra in the temple which his Egyptian votaries had erected to his glory, when the Greeks were a Nomadic herd, and the Persians unknown barbarians.

The most ancient of all the existing obelisks, if we except a small model, one discovered by Lepsiusin a tomb of the VIIth dynasty, is that of Usirtesen I., of the XIIth dynasty, circa 3064 B.C. ; and the most recent that of Domitian; now in the Piazza Navona at Rome, A.D. 81. Thus the Egyptian faith, as attested by the obelisks alone„ covered a space of more than 3100 years, not including the long prior period occupied by the first twelve dynasties.* In all that long stretch of time the obelisk was a sacred monument; was the emblem at once of the vivifying power of the sun, and of the divine nature of the king; a witness for the "right divine to govern wrong" for thirty-one centuries at least. There does not exist in any of the capitals of Europe, and perhaps, not even in the more ancient cities of Hindustan, a class of objects which have received uninterrupted veneration for as long a time; or which can show as unbroken a succession of religious dedications.

*With reference to the number of dynasties in Egypt, a Cayce life reading for Mr. 341 indicates a much longer prehistorical period. 

This psychic reading given by Edgar Cayce at his office, 322 Grafton Avenue, Dayton, Ohio, this 2nd day of June, 1925, in accordance with request made by [341].


Edgar Cayce; Mrs. Cayce, Conductor; Gladys Davis, Steno.


Time of Reading 12:00 Noon Dayton Savings Time. ..., Ohio.

1. Conductor Gertrude Cayce: You will have before you the Life Reading given on [341] on February 28, 1925 [341-8], on the earthly existence in Egypt as Raaaart, and the associations with same. You will tell us at what period, as counted by man, in the world's history this was, and what the entity accomplished at this time.

2. You will then have before you the individuals, as I name them, and you will tell us whether or not these individuals lived in Egypt at this time, and if they were associated with this entity, and in what capacity.

3. Edgar Cayce:Yes, we have this sojourn in the earth's plane. This is rather A-r-a-a-r-a-a-r-t [Stenographer Gladys Davis's note: In the suggestion GC pronounced it R, then spelled the rest and in the first paragraph EC spelled the name again, as he did in 341-8], and the time as we find is, as counted by man, eleven thousand and sixteen (11,016) years before the Prince of Peace came into this land.

{W. Hutton says, "Thus, Cayce's source is talking about events roughly 13,000 years ago. Recall that reading 5748-6 indicates that the Great Pyramid was constructed between roughly 12,490 and 12,390 years ago. This reading, then is for a time roughly 500 years before the building of the Great Pyramid.}

As to that accomplished, we find this in one of the highest civilizations of this country in its present position, for we find this same country had been submerged for nearly a quarter of a million years since the civilization had been in this portion of country,

This ancient Egyptian obelisk stands at the place known as the Horizon of the Sun God. Ramses II built this as the primary entrance to his temple at Luxor in Thebes. The obelisk describes his achievements, it stands 82 feet tall and weighs about 250 tons. The top was capped with a pyramidion which flashed in the sun. Obelisks were considered idols of jealousy in the Bible and were cursed by God

and the peoples as had overrun the country in the various changes by invasions from the east and north, and this ruler, Araaraart, being then the second of the northern kings, and followed in the rule of the father, Arart, and began the rule, or took the position as the leader in his sixteenth year and ruled over these peoples for ninety-eight years. The country, as we find, was brought to a higher state of understanding with the surrounding nations, and there was much of the religious ceremonies practiced in this time, much of this being brought in from the northern country and of the religions as existed in this same country through the religion of that of the one taken as the companion, for there were many taken, and with the unearthing of the tribal rites and ceremonies, the coalition of these truths we find were correlated with these peoples as were gathered about this ruler, and much of the architectural forces were set in motion. As we see, the first foundations of the emblematical condition as is set in the sphinx was begun in this rule, for this, as we see, has remained the mystery of the ages.

In the accomplishments then, we have as these in Araaraart. This: Much of the sealing of the peoples' abilities in being drawn together for benefits of the masses rather than classes, for we find, though this ruler worshiped by many, yet remaining much in that same spirit as is found in the better classes of the ones serving Higher Forces than self, which is service to fellowman. The monuments as were unearthed and added to from time to time, we find are some still existent {like the obelisks of this THC bulletin?} , though many buried beneath shifting sands. Others underneath sands that became the bed of the seas that overflowed this country.

{These last two sentences may hold the answer as to why nothing has yet been found of the earlier Egypt of Cayce's readings; however, the absence of references to time lines makes it impossible to even attempt to reconstruct the sequence of Earth changing events that would have obtained in those times. }


(Q) Did this ruler have any other names or titles?
(A) There were many titles given in the various dialects of the peoples. This is one as will be found as recorded with that of the other rulers. Araaraart, known as one of the household of rulers in the Egyptian forces. One of good stature. One of goodly countenance, for we find this entity of the larger peoples as came in from the north during the reign of one preceding this entity.

The accomplishment is in the sealing of the religious rites and of giving of the laws to be used by these peoples in this great land.

(Q) Was this entity, as history gives it, one of the Pharaohs, or Rameses?
(A) As one of Pharaohs of which there were more than three thousand. This coming, as given, in the eleven thousand and thirteen to sixteen (11,013 to 16) years before the Prince of Peace came into this country - coming in during the second year, see?





W. R. COOPER, F.R.A.S., M.R.A.S. ,

With translations of many of the
Hieroglyphic Inscriptions

Chiefly By



[1877 version available for $75.00 at this link ]


IN the following pages I have endeavoured to arrange, in something like consecutive order, all that is definitely known concerning the History of the Egyptian Obelisks generally; and more particularly of those now standing. To do this it has been necessary to compare the accounts of many writers, and the measurements of various authors, but the result of -such a comparison is far from satisfactory; in truth there is very little agreement between them; and there are several statements which cannot be reconciled with each other. Under these difficulties, I have had to rely chiefly upon the measurements of Bonomi, he being professionally a sculptor as well as an Egyptologist, and, therefore, possessing a double guarantee against liability to errors of detail. With regard to the identi-fications of the obelisks mentioned by Pliny with those now standing in Rome, it is hardly possible to be quite certain as to any special monument, except perhaps the Obelisk of the Circus Maximus. The original text of Pliny is very vague, and the judgment of Zoega is not wholly to be depended upon. For-tunately these contrarieties do not affect the chief thing in connection with the obelisk to which importance is to be attached: namely, the' interpretation of their hieroglyphics, since these latter enable us now to re-construct a history of the monarchs by whom they were erected, from their own contemporaneous records. And here let me add; that I trust that the impetus now given to Egyptian archaeology by the splendid gift of the Obelisk of London by Prof Erasmus Wilson, will not be allowed to dissipate itself after a few months' excitement; but that it will induce many of my readers to study for themselves the language of the Egyptians, which has now become accessible to all students by the Grammar of P. le Page Renouf, and the text books of Dr. Birch, the father of English Egyptology.

I have now to express my sincere thanks to M. Francois Chabas, for his very valuable aid in freely translating for me the inscriptions upon six of the principal obelisks; to Prof. Erasmus Wilson, who while himself engaged on a similar work, has with singular liberality of sentiment assisted me in my own; to Mr. Hodder Westropp for the loan of many books of reference; and to Dr. Sinclair Coghill, Mr. Westropp of Eglinton, the Rev. Clement Hue, of St. Lawrence, Prof. Monier Williams, and Mr. S. M. Drach, for many literary kindnesses in connection wth this work.

October 1, 1877


Characteristics of an Obelisk.

OF all the monuments of Egypt the most striking and the most characteristic are the Obelisk and the Pyramid; both of them solar emblems: the one significant of the rising, and the other of the setting sun; and both alike dating from that pre-historic period of civilization which was in perfection ere the Father of the Faithful had descended from Ur of the Chaldees, or the Turanian races of India were oppressed by their Aryan brethren.

For so long a succession of centuries has the Obelisk been admired and copied in the various cities of Africa, Asia, and Europe; Alexandria, Constantinople, and Rome, that the original peculiarities of the structure itself have been occasionally lost sight of: and any single vertical monument that could not be exactly described as a column, has been set down as in obelisk. Hence there is still in popular acceptance some inaccuracy as to the exact form that an obelisk should assume: and it becomes necessary at once to define what an obelisk is, and what it is not as to external form, before we proceed to examine the intention of its symbolism.

An obelisk, or tekhen, to give it its Egyptian name, then, is a monument composed of a single quadrangular upright stone, having its four faces inclined towards each other; and in section, all its angles, right angles, and all its sides parallel to each other; its height is not less than that of ten diameters, taken at the base; and its apex is abruptly terminated by a small pyramidion, whose faces are inclined at about an angle of sixty degrees. The obelisk is generally supported upon a quadrangular base, the height of which is approximately that of a cube and a half, and which is also, like the obelisk, composed of a single stone, this base is further supported by two broad and deep steps. It is not necessary that the four sides of either obelisk or base have in section the same width, provided that each opposite side is exactly equal; but it is necessary that all the lines of the monument be right lines; and that it should have no more than four sides. A polygonal, or a cylindrical monolith is not an obelisk; on the other hand, obelisks may be either inscribed or uninscribed; but the ornamentation is never in relief, other than the low sunken relief used in Egyptian art„ and known as incavo relievo; and the inscription is always vertical with the lines of the monument, and not horizontal. It must be added, also, that entasis, that slight curvature of all long lines, which is so marked a feature in classic architecture, is wholly foreign to the design of an obelisk in the best period of Pharaohnic art.*

* The faces of the Flaminian obelisk as drawn by Bonomi are not equal: see Tomlinson on "The Flaminian Obelisk," Tram. Roy. Soc. Lit., Vol. 1,1 p. 176. New Series. The obelisks of Luxor, of which the one now at Paris is an example, have certainly a convexity or entasis on the inner faces only; that is an exception to the general rule.

The dimensions of obelisks vary greatly: those of the earlier period being generally the largest, and the simplest in execution. The loftiest now in existence is that which adorns the court of the church of St. John Lateran, at Rome,** where it stands a monu-ment, first of the majesty of Thothmes III., by whom it was designed; afterwards of the power of Constan-tine the Great, who removed it sixteen hundred years later from Heliopolis to Alexandria; and lastly of his successor Constantius who re-erected it in the Circus Maximus of Imperial Rome.

** In this I follow the measurements given by Bonomi, the best writer on the subject of obelisks. Pierret however cites the obelisk of Hatasu at Karnak as being the loftiest known: it being 33 metres high; while that of Sat. John Lateran is, according to the same authority, 32 only.

The smallest obelisks are the beautiful red granite couple which are now in the Egyptian saloon of the Florentine Museum, and which are respectively seven feet, and five feet ten inches in height: The mutilated and summitless fragments in the British Museum, though now eight feet high, were indisputably loftier when terminated by their original apexes.

The material of which the obelisk was composed was generally a granite, or hard sandstone, capable of being well cut and of taking a high polish. For symbolical reasons which will be hereafter described, the red granite of Syene was chiefly employed: twenty seven out of the forty-two obelisks now known to exist being wrought in that imperishable material; the pyramidion at the summit was, when its faces were not sculptured with votive vignettes, covered with a cap of either bronze or gold: the obelisks of Hatasu at Karnak being completed in the hieroglyphic texts as thus completed in that costly metal, while the bronze cap of the obelisk at Heliopolis remained entire till the middle ages, having reached the notice of the eminent physician and historian Abd-el-lateef who flourished circa I300. No obelisks however now remain thus completed, the avarice of poverty or the rapacity of war having stripped from these, as well as the other monuments of Egypt, every fragment of exposed metal either to furnish gold for the extortions of the Turkish governors, or swords or guns for the defence, more often the destruction, of the Fellaheen.


The Symbolism of the Obelisk.

IN its original conception, the religion of Egypt was a pure monotheism, a monotheism of the most refined character, which admitted even to the last no portraiture of the Supreme Being, but adored him in his visible manifestations, and symbolised his character by allegorical representations founded upon a human form. The distinction between portraiture and symbolic representation must be strictly recollected by the student of Egyptian theology, who is accustomed to look upon a multitude of gods, of a more or less animal nature, as characteristic of the worship of the banks of the Nile. This mistake, as old as the time of the Grecian historians, aroused the keenest notes of the satirical lyre of Juvenal, and has perpetuated the most contemptuous ridicule in the writings of the early Fathers of the Christian church; but though not immediately apparent, the differentiation between portraiture and symbolic statuary is perfectly real and natural, and, if anything, modern religious art carries out the more faulty conception of the two. When a modern worshipper looks upon the reverent furrowed features and grey beard of the first person of the Trinity in the accepted chefs d'oeuvres of Catholic art, or when he implores pity at the feet of the languid-eyed long-haired Madonna of Italian sculpture, he unconsciously regards the divine personage so represented, as so looking; and Christian iconography has accepted a perfectly well-defined ideal likeness of every person in the Godhead. Not so the Egyptian devotee: he never attributed to Ra or Anubis the actual possession of a human body with either the beak of a hawk, or the snout of a jackal; a cow-headed Isis or a snake-headed Horus, though both common enough in the temple statuary, was regarded simply as an allegorical conception, a sculptured metaphor to convey to the mind's eye the attributes of a being, who was himself inconceivable and indescribable. In the higher mysteries of the sacred books, the Great Supreme was spoken of as the creator and controller of all the gods, who were but his various manifestations; while the Sun itself, that mysterious luminary upon whose beneficent beams all human or vegetable life depended, was regarded as his clearest symbol, and as partaking in some degree of the divine essence; and it was therefore worshipped throughout Egypt with a universal veneration.

Upon the position of the sun, then, its gradual rise from the eastern horizon, its glorious enthronization in the mid-day firmament, and its gentle decline behind the mountains of the west, from thence to traverse during the twelve hours of night the mysterious regions of the Underworld: upon its course along the heavens, and its station in all these positions, the theology of Egypt was based. Based theoretically on a spiritual, it became practically a solar worship, the sun being venerated under its two chief deifications, Ra the rising and mid-day sun, to whose cultus the obelisk was appropriated, and Turn the setting or midnight sun, the emblem of whose influence was the pyramid. In Ra, according to the solar litanies, were combined all the attributes of power and wisdom; the source of life and the springs of health were his; every characteristic quality of each of the multiform lesser deities of Egypt he possessed in full perfection, and the noblest and most exalted language was used to describe his nature and offices. The soul of man, which emanated originally from his own essence, rose from the pre-existent eternity with him, and descended for a time into the shades of the Underworld, there still to venerate its maker, and again to arise purified and justified till it was eventually reabsorbed into the solar orb from which it was first emitted. The Litany of Ra, one of the most famous of the sacred liturgies of the Egyptians, declares the deity to be "An Eternal Essence; "Self Created;" “The Supreme Power;" "The Original;" "The Creator of his own Members," that is of his own manifestations, the active life of all things; "The Father of the Eternal Son," i.e., of Horus who performed in Egyptian mythology the part of a justifier and a redeemer of the believers in Ra; "The Spirit of Space filling all things;” “The Invisible;" "The Ruler of Heaven and Hell;" The Revealer of Secrets;" "The Cause of both Light and Darkness;" "The Dweller in Inapproachable Darkness;" "The Breath of all Souls;" "The Cause of all that is;" and "The Most Mysterious God;` in fine, all the deities and all things that exist were but manifestations of himself; nature was reduced to a spiritual pantheism. As the powerful rays of the sun were often suddenly fatal, so the attribute of wrath was ascribed to Ra; but inasmuch as he was too remote and too sublime to experience a personal anger, his vengeful attributes were personified in Shu, the lion-headed god of forces, and Tefnut, the lion-headed goddess of vengeance. The hawk, that noble bird which in Egypt soared highest of all flying creatures, was sacred to the sun; the bull amongst animals, because he was both the strongest, and because his powers of generation were believed to be instantaneous, was honoured as his representative, as he is to this day in Southern India for nearly the same reason. The supreme, as the sun, reigned dominant, sole and eternal in Egyptian mythology; his glory might indeed be manifested in another deity but it could not be shared by it, inas-much as in certain operations the sun, as Ra, was believed to assume a lower position in the relation which one attribute bore to the other, and therefore was ranked occasionally as one of the secondary deities; it was merely an official not a spiritual subordination: Ra still remained all in all, whether he were called Ra-Tum, Amen-Ra (the hidden), Ra-Har-makhu (the sun in the horizon), Horus-Ra, the mediatory god, or Kheper-Ra, the creator; in the last character being represented by the sacred scarabeus holding the cosmic ball between his front legs.

[The scarabeus, Ateuchis Sacer, was regarded as an emblem of the sun, because it was in the habit of laying its eggs in a ball of dung or clay, which it kept rolling before it till they were vivified by the direct heat of the sun.]

Of this all-powerful deity the obelisk was considered to be the most technical symbol: inasmuch as its sharply defined lines and narrow proportions, conjoined with its immense height, gave no imperfect representation of a pencil or ray of light, such as would often be seen darting vertically downwards through the crevices of the gathering clouds. For this reason also, granite, as being the most durable material, was generally chosen, that the least destructible stone might represent the eternal sun; and the colour red, was likewise selected as analogous to the hue of the disk of the sun, when viewed across the sands of the Lybian desert. There was also a further reason why the obelisk was dedicated to the sun as the creator, but that reason is one which can only be here alluded to, as affording one of the earliest indications of a form of nature worship which has led to the most painful and objectionable excesses.

[Pierret, Dict. Arch. Egypt., "Obelisque." There is, however, no reason to believe that at the early period of Egyptian history, or indeed till after the Greek invasion under the Psammetichi, there was any obscenity either of thought or action connected with the symbolical worship of the obelisk. The nature of this worship is beyond dispute, for in the Museum of the Louvre there is a mummied phallus preserved in an upright wooden case shaped like an obelisk, and honoured as a symbol of Amen the generator.]

As the king while living was theologically regarded as both a son of Ra, and also by an hypostasis, Ra himself, it followed as a corollary that the inscriptions on the obelisk were generally honorific of the sovereign by whom it was erected, and that they conveyed more the declarations of Ra to the monarch than any direct homage of the Pharaoh to the god. Hence the very little historical value of the obelisk texts in general; few of them were dated; they consisted chiefly of the same monotonous list of official epithets and magniloquent titles, with the so-called banner name, or Horus title of the sovereign, at the top, a title which he assumed as the personation of Horus-Ra himself; and on the sides of the pyramidion, or sometimes at the lower portion of the monument, a vignette, representing either the king standing and making an offering to Amen-Ra, or else kneeling at the feet of the god, who was figured as investing him with the sacred crown of the double kingdom, and commissioning him to conquer all nations, and to take the spoils of all lands.

As the execution of an obelisk was a work of considerable time, and as it was always sculptured after it had been permanently placed in position; it not infrequently happened, as will be hereafter shown in the cases of the Luxor and Lateran obelisks, that a monument erected by one Pharaoh has been completed by another; and where the centre line of inscription has been finished by the original dedicator, his son or successor has subsequently added parallel columns setting forth his own glory; and in one or two examples the second appropriator has had the meanness to attempt to erase the cartouch of his preceder and to substitute his own, an attempt that has not in any case been successful, an attempt besides of the meanest character, and according to the rules of Egyptian mythology of the basest and most cruel nature; as by the obliteration of the name of an individual from his stele or monument, the spiritual life of that person was itself imperilled. Of this disgraceful conduct, one of the greatest Pharaohs of Egypt, Thothmes III., had the pettyness to be guilty, by the defacement of the name of his great sister queen Hatasu, at Deir-el-bahri; a meanness rendered only the more glaringly apparent, by the inability of the forger to erase or alter the personal pronouns in the whole of the long dedications which would not grammatically agree with the titles and cartouch of Thothmes.

In concluding this chapter, it remains but to be stated that a still more serious defacement of the Egyptian monuments, and obelisks in particular, took place upon two occasions, when for religious motives which are not quite apparent at this lapse of time, the figure of the god Set was hammered out wherever it occurred in a royal cartouch, and that of Ra substituted for it. At another period also the name as well as the figure of Amen suffered the like erasement, and there is evidence that these alterations must have been by order of a very powerful change of religious feeling: for the objectionable names were obliterated and the others reinscribed on the most inaccessible portions of the temples, as well as on the bases of the votive statues. And in the instance of the obelisk of the Lateran, a scaffolding must have been erected for the sole purpose of chiselling out a portion of a few small cartouches at the very summit of the monolith: cartouches which were almost invisible from the ground, at the height at which they were carved.


Relations of the Obelisk and the Pyramid.

THE first mention of the obelisk, or tekhen, occurs in connection with the pyramid: and both are alike designated sacred monuments on the funeral stele of the early empire, and also were undeniably devoted to the worship of the sun; occasionally the obelisk was represented as surmounting a pyramid, a position which it has never actually been found to occupy. The fundamental idea of the obelisk was doubtless that of light and creation, but towards the period of the XXIInd dynasty, the syllabic value of stability was attached to it, a characteristic hitherto only symbolised by the Nilometer, or tat.

The monuments of the usurping kings of the XIIIth and subsequent dynasties, have been defaced and appropriated by the Pharaohs of the XVIIIth or XIXth. Atefnuter Ai, of the XVIIIth dynasty, had his name erased by his successors on account of his illegitimacy; Amenhotep IV., on account of his heresy in the proscription of the worship of Amen for that of Aten Ra; and Shabaka the Ethiopian, because he was an usurper. The chief defacers of the monuments of their predecessors were the famous monarchs Thothmes III. and Rameses II., both actuated apparently by motives of jealousy and the monument was then termed; Men, which was a portion of the divine name of the deity Amen-Ra, to whom it was generally dedicated. These ideas came naturally: as the expression of Egyptian mythology Amen-Ra, or Ra as the generator could be properly represented as "Lord of Obelisks," implying lord of stability in the heavenly world, as Osiris was called "Lord of Tattu," and was represented by two tats, emblems of his stability as judge of the dead, and lord of the lower world; while the pyramid ab mer symbolised the midnight or subterranean sun. Hence arose both the connection and the differentiation between the two classes of votivi, a differentiation not sufficiently regarded, but which was in itself highly significant. These differences deserve numerical notice here:

  1. The obelisks of Egypt are all situated on the eastern side of the Nile, that being the district of the rising sun; while all the pyramids are located on the western bank of the river, the land of the sun setting; located amidst rock cut cemeteries, and the tumuli of the undistinguished dead of many generations.
  2. The obelisk was invariably a monolith, and stood upon a base either cubiform, or of one or two steps or gradines. The pyramids were always composed of several courses of stone, even where the position of the ground allowed of their being like the sphynx cut out of the natural rock.
  3. Obelisks were almost invariably erected in pairs, fronting the chief pylons of the greater temples; they preserved a symmetrical relation to each other; and they were surrounded by colonnades and aediculi, or smaller temples, dedicated to the lesser deities, or to the king as himself a deity.

    On the other hand, with the sole exception of the so-called pyramids of Moeris or Amenemha III., of which no remains now exist, the pyramids were always though congregated in groups, yet arranged independently of each other; and the principle of duplication was not followed in their distribution.
  4. The obelisks were generally inscribed, and those which remain without an inscription were evidently prepared to receive one, Their intention was to exalt the glory of the living monarch the son of the sun, or Ra. The pyramids have no external inscription (the testimony of Herodotus notwithstanding); whatever hieroglyphics there were, were reserved for the sepulchral coffin, and the chamber in which it was deposited. The inscription in a pyramid had reference to the dead, the Osiride Pharaoh, and not to the reigning sovereign.
  5. The obelisks were in many cases tipped with a metal covering; the pyramids were on the other hand covered by a casing of polished stones, which several of them still retain in a more or less perfect condition, a fate which has not befallen the brasen summits of the more slender monuments.

  6. Many of the obelisks of Egypt occupy no longer, even in their own country, their original situation: those of Alexandria were removed from On to Alexandria, and that of Heliopolis was probably reerected in a later period than that of the monarch whose name it bears. Twelve, if not more obelisks, were carried off to Italy by the Romans, two were transported to Nineveh by Assurbanipal on the establishment of the Dodecarchy, and these two it is to be regretted have not yet been found, probably they still remain under the debris of the city of Assur. On the other 'hand, not one of the pyramids has been removed from its place, several have been destroyed, and many mutilated, but though the Romans imitated the work of the Egyptians in the pyramid of Caius Cestius, and probably other funereal monuments also, they never attempted to carry and re-erect any of the smaller pyramids, which they might easily have done.

  7. Lastly, it may be observed that the name of the erecters of the obelisks are mostly all known to us, while those of the founders of the lesser pyramids are either lost or else are difficult to identify. The stelae of the priests of many of the deified pyramid builders of the Vth dynasty re-main, but the identical structures to which they were attached cannot now be verified, they are among the many historical data which time, more revengeful even than ambition, has erased from the tablets of archaeology.

It is in itself a remarkable peculiarity of everything connected with the worship of the Ancient Egyptians, that it had its rise long prior to the genesis of Classic history; that it existed in full power contemporaneously with the theologies of India, Greece, Etruria, and Rome, and that it, overlapping Christianity itself, only ceased to become venerated when all material worship had been swept away; neither the philosophy of Plato, nor the atheism of Cicero could influence beyond a certain limit the term of the Egyptian mythology; it still awed the mixed multitudes in Alexandria under the sway of the Caesars, as it had done the ancient Egyptians, "the pure men," as they called themselves in the time of Menes and Athothes ; the tributes of distant countries were still brought by the Ptolemies to the shrine of Tum, as they had been a thousand years before by Rameses III., and Alexander and Darius paid homage to Amen-Ra in the temple which his Egyptian votaries had erected to his glory, when the Greeks were a Nomadic herd, and the Persians unknown barbarians.

The most ancient of all the existing obelisks, if we except a small model, one discovered by Lepsiusin a tomb of the VIIth dynasty, is that of Usirtesen I of the XIIth dynasty, circa 3064 B.C. ; and the most recent that of Domitian; now in the Piazza Navona at Rome, A.D. 81. Thus the Egyptian faith, as attested by the obelisks alone, covered a space of more than 3000 years, not including the long prior period occupied by the first twelve dynasties. In all that long stretch of time the obelisk was a sacred monument; was the emblem at once of the vivifying power of the sun, and of the divine nature of the king; a witness for the "right divine to govern wrong,” for thirty-one centuries at least. There does not exist in any of the capitals of Europe, and perhaps not even in the more ancient cities of Hindustan, a class of objects which have received uninterrupted veneration for as long a time as have obelisks.