Ethiopia unveils ancient obelisk

September 4th, 2008 | by addis portal |

Ethiopia is celebrating the unveiling of the reassembled Axum obelisk, one of the country’s greatest treasures.

The obelisk, at least 1,700 years old, was looted by Italian troops in the 1930s and returned to Ethiopia in 2005.A giant Ethiopian flag was removed from the obelisk in front of what organisers said was a crowd of tens of thousands in the ancient northern town of Axum.The ceremony is the last big event of Ethiopia’s millennium year, the year 2000 by the country’s Coptic calendar. The president and prime minister were among the officials attending.Ancient empireIntricately carved obelisks were erected at the tombs of Ethiopia’s ancient kings when Axum was the centre of a great empire.

The obelisk shows the architectural talent of our ancestors

Berhanu KebedeEthiopian ambassador to the UK

But only one remained standing amid the tumbled blocks of its former companions, the BBC’s Elizabeth Blunt reports from Ethiopia.The Axum obelisk was taken by troops in 1937 during the Italian occupation.The monument weighs more than 150 tonnes and was brought back from Italy in three pieces.Its return followed decades of negotiations between the Italian and Ethiopian governments, and long delays in transporting the heavy stones from Rome.The monument has now been restored and resurrected in its original home. 

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