THE obelisks were among the earliest public works of the Egyptians, having been erected between the years 2000 and 525 B. C. The purpose and origin of these wonders of human skill is still shrouded in mystery. 

They are thought by some to have been connected with the worship of the sun; others claim that they were employed as sun-dials; but later research seems to prove that they were erected as monuments, partly religious, partly historical, and to some extent ornamental.

Our engraving represents one of the two giant pillars known as Cleopatra's Needles. 

These columns consist each of a single stone of rose-colored granite seventy feet high and nearly eight feet in diameter at the base. They were cut from the quarry of Syene, in Southern Egypt, and placed side by side before the temple of the Setting Sun, in the ancient city of On. From this place they were transported, in the days of Cleopatra, to the temple of Caesar, in Alexandria. The modern name, Cleopatra's Needle, was given to one of them in memory of this transfer. The other was known as Pompey's Pillar, but it has long been a disputed question, which is which, and the former name is now applied alike to both.

One of these giants, "towering to the skies," has stood in its place unmoved for twenty centuries; the other was thrown down how or when is unknown and for hundreds of years lay buried in the sand. 

It is this fallen pillar which has been the object of especial interest of late, and of which we wish to speak further here.

If you look at the picture, you will see that the sides of the obelisk are covered with what, to our eyes, appear like birds, animals, and strange marks. These figures are a kind of hieroglyphics, or picture-writing, which people of modern times could not read till about seventy-five years ago, when a French scholar studied out their meaning.

From these inscriptions we learn that the obelisk was erected, before the time of Moses, by the order of King Thothmes III., a powerful monarch and conqueror. The same record also states that the shaft was once capped with gold, but of course it has been stripped of that ornamental portion. 

Other inscriptions afterward added by Rameses II., preserve the memory of hisconquests.

In 1819 the fallen obelisk was presented to the British government by Mehemet Ali, the pasha of Egypt. But the cost of moving it to England was so great that the project was abandoned. A few years ago, however, a wealthy gentleman offered to give a large sum toward meeting the expense of its removal. His generous offer was accepted, and a ship about two hundred feet long and thirty feet in diameter was soon after built for this grand enterprise.

This ship, or boat, was towed by a steamer, but in a violent storm the cable connecting the two was broken, and for a time the obelisk was given up for lost. It was finally recovered, however, and after many delays the ship with its precious burden arrived safely in England, and the obelisk was erected in the Thames Embankment, a beautiful park near the Parliament House in London. 

M. A.