In the 1800s, France, England, and the United States each undertook to STEAL move a massive Egyptian obelisk
It’s a slightly more interesting story. The obelisks in Paris and London were gifts from Muhammad Ali Pasha who ruled Egypt from 1809 to 1848.
While he wasn’t a ethnic Egyptian himself- he was an Albanian born in modern-day Greece- he is considered by Egyptians today to be the founder of the modern Egyptian state. Muhammad Ali was only ever officially a governor under the Ottoman Empire, but in practice he made Egypt almost completely independent of Ottoman rule, sending troops to fight both alongside and against the Turks at different times.
Only the Paris obelisk was actually moved in Muhammad Ali’s lifetime. The London one stayed in Egypt until 1877, when the British finally put together the money to transport it. At that point, the US Consul General in Cairo asked the then ruler of Egypt- Ismail Pasha, Muhammad Ali’s grandson- for an obelisk to match the ones in London and Paris. Ismail Pasha was heavily influenced by (and in a lot of debt to) Britain and France, but the British didn’t invade Egypt until 1882.
I believe from my fallible memory that a considerable financial consideration was proffered along with the aforementioned request.
Also, in my 46 year life time, the obelisk in NYC has gone from climbable to severely eroded and basically flat. It turns out that pollution is bad. Who knew?
As one does…
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