Unfinished Obelisk in Aswan

Unfinished Obelisk in Aswan

Abandoned thousands of years ago in the quarries of Aswan, the Unfinished Obelisk is a granite would-be monument that was never finished. It is one of the most important archaeological finds in Egypt for the insight it has provided into ancient stonemasonry methods.

As its name suggests, the Obelisk - which would have been the heaviest single stone monument the Egyptians ever created - was never finished. Three sides of the enormous shaft were completed when the masons discovered a crack in the granite and abandoned it, still half attached to the bedrock it was being carved from.

A sea of unknowns

The obelisks created by the Ancient Egyptians are the subject of great debate between historians. The historic process of their manufacture is shrouded in questions - how were they carved in just one block? How were the thousand-ton monuments transported over hundreds of miles? And how were these immensely heavy columns raised into position once they arrived at their destination?

Numerous theories have been argued over the years that the obelisks were sailed up the Nile by boat... although that doesn't explain how they were carried to the boats, or how the boats supported their weight! And of course, there's always someone who comes up with the simple answer that the obelisks, like the pyramids, were not actually created by human hands but by extra-terrestrials... Hmmm - you can make your own mind up about that!

Visiting the Unfinished Obelisk

The Unfinished Obelisk makes for an impressive visit, if only to try and wrap your head around the idea of it being created by the ancient civilisation in ways we can't even imagine today. If you're visiting Aswan independently, pop to the nearby Fatimid Cemetery too, which has some fascinating 9th century mud-brick tombs. Otherwise, if you're short on time, the easiest way to see the obelisk is to combine your tour with a visit to the other nearby monuments of the Philae Temple and the Aswan Dam:


Daily from 8 am to 5 pm.


Adults: LE 80.
Students (with valid ID): LE 40.

Aswan Dam, Philae Temple, and the Unfinished Obelisk € 50


Microbuses are available from Aswan city centre, and private taxis should only charge about LE20 to LE25. Otherwise combine the visit with a tour of other nearby monuments with transfers included.