The Obelisk of Theodosius

The Obelisk of Theodosius, also known as Dikilitaş in Turkish

The Obelisk of Theodosius, also known as Dikilitaş in Turkish, is an ancient Egyptian obelisk that was originally erected by Pharaoh Thutmose III during the 18th dynasty. It was initially placed to the south of the seventh pylon of the great temple of Karnak. Later, in 357 AD, the Roman emperor Constantius II ordered the obelisk, along with another one, to be transported along the river Nile to Alexandria to celebrate his 20th year on the throne. The other obelisk was put up on the spina of the Circus Maximus in Rome and is now called the Lateran Obelisk. The Obelisk of Theodosius remained in Alexandria until Theodosius I, the Roman Emperor from 379 to 395 AD, had it transported to Constantinople in 390 AD. There, it was erected on the spina of the Hippodrome, which is currently known as At Meydanı or Sultanahmet Meydanı, in the modern city of Istanbul, Turkey.

5 Facts About The Obelisk of Theodosius

  • The Obelisk of Theodosius was originally covered in hieroglyphics that told the story of the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III. However, when the Romans brought it to Alexandria, they added their own inscriptions to the sides of the obelisk.
  • It is one of the oldest surviving ancient Egyptian monuments in the world, the obelisk is over 3,500 years old.
  • Emperor Theodosius and his court are depicted in reliefs on the pedestal of the obelisk, along with scenes from the chariot races at the Hippodrome.
  • The Obelisk is one of several ancient Egyptian obelisks that were moved to Constantinople by Roman emperors. The city was known for its many obelisks, which were used to mark important landmarks and events.
  • In 1498, the obelisk suffered damage from a lightning strike, causing the bronze cubes located at its base to melt. However, they were subsequently replaced with new cubes that remain in their positions to this day.