Did you know there are more obelisks in Rome than in Egypt?
This is the proof of the intense relationship between two great civilizations of the past, of course an economic relationship (Egypt was the main “granary” of Rome), but also a spiritual link. In Rome many temples were erected to the Egyptian gods (Isis and Serapis above all) and several artefacts were imported or imitated (a good range is now in the Egyptian sections of the Vatican and Capitoline collections).
But the clearest evidence of the awe Romans felt towards Egypt (after all, Egypt was a much older civilization and represented the “antiquity” compared to them!) is the presence of many obelisks in town: they were transferred as symbols of submission and triumph, as an ornament for mausoleums or as a gnomon of a sundial, mainly as winning posts in the stadiums.
The tallest of these “petrified sun rays” (this is the original religious meaning of the obelisk) ever produced in Egypt is still visible here in Rome, next to the Basilica di San Giovanni (105 feet) . Following the story of the 13 obelisks of Rome, you can learn a lot about the various ages of the Eternal City: a scooter or bike tour is a perfect way to admire them all, of course escorted by A Friend in Rome!
Left: the Washington Monument in Washington DC, US (1884, 169 mt )
Above: Obelisco Flaminio, Piazza del Popolo, Rome (XIII c. AC, 24 mt)