Removal of an obelisk from Thebes to Paris

In 1833, the French removed the smallest of the two obelisks which stood before the propylon of the temple of Luxor to Paris, and elevated it in the Place de la Concorde. The shaft is 76 feet high, and eight feet wide on the broadest side of the base; the pedestal is 10 feet square by 16 feet high. Permission for the removal of both the obelisks having been granted to the French government by the Viceroy of Egypt, a vessel constructed for the purpose was sent out in March, 1831, under M. Lebas, an eminent engineer, to whom the undertaking was confided, it being previously determined to bring away only one, and M. Lebas found it sufficiently difficult to bring away the smallest of the two. After three months’ labor with 800 men, the obelisk was removed on an inclined plane into the vessel, through a hole made in the end for the purpose. It arrived safely up the Seine to Paris, Dec. 23d, 1833. An inclined plane of solid masonry was then constructed, leading from the river up to a platform, also of rough masonry, level with the top of the pedestal. The obelisk, having been placed on a kind of timber car or sledge, was drawn up by means of ropes and capstans. One edge of the base having been brought to its place on the pedestal, it was raised to a perpendicular position by ropes and pulleys attached to the heads of ten masts, five on each side. When all was ready, the obelisk was elevated to its place under the direction of M. Lebas, in three hours, without the least accident, Oct. 25th, 1836. It is said that Lebas had provided himself with loaded pistols, in the firm determination to blow out his brains in case of an accident!

S. Spooner from Anecdotes of painters, engravers sculptors and architects, and curiosities of art.


Las dos Castillas

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