Egypt to Central Park: We Want Cleopatra Needle Back

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The message delivered by Cairo was no Sphinx’s riddle. If New York doesn’t get its act together, it may have to kiss Cleopatra’s Needle goodbye.

Among the better known monuments in Gotham’s expansive Central Park is Cleopatra’s Needle. The 71-foot tall obelisk has owned the title as the the oldest man-made object in the Frederick Olmsted-designed park ever since 1881, when it was formally installed. A gift from Egypt to commemorate the opening of the Suez Canal, Cleopatra’s Needle has not been adequately maintained, according to Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass.

(See pictures of disputed antiquities.)

“I am glad that this monument has become such an integral part of New York City, but I am dismayed at the lack of care and attention that it has been given,” Hawass wrote in a letter to Central Park Conservancy and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Recent photographs that I have received show the severe damage that has been done to the obelisk, particularly to the hieroglyphic text, which in places has been completely worn away. I have a duty to protect all Egyptian monuments whether they are inside or outside of Egypt. If the Central Park Conservancy and the City of New York cannot properly care for this obelisk, I will take the necessary steps to bring this precious artifact home and save it from ruin.” (via MSNBC)

(See the top 10 plundered artifacts.)