Science News a Century Ago


    The Obelisk of Luxor In the Mechanics Magazine of July 12 and 19, 1834, is an interesting account of the arrangements made for the transport to France from Egypt, a country “once great and nourishing, but now desolate and forsaken”, of the famous Obelisk of Luxor. The plans for its transport were entrusted to the distinguished naval engineer, Jean Baptiste Lebas (1797-1873), who had been a student at the Ecole Poly-technique. Under his direction a special vessel was built at Toulon, the crew of which consisted of 120 seamen and 12 artisans. Commanded by Lieut. Vernniac, the vessel sailed from Toulon on April 15, 1831, arrived at Alexandria on May 3 and proceeding up the Nile, reached Luxor on July 12, when her rigging and fittings were removed. With her stern ashore, as the waters subsided she settled in the sand and sand was piled high around her sides. A section of the stern was then removed and an inclined plane was constructed to the Temple 1,500 ft. away. The obelisk was then encased in a wooden shell, one side of which was worked smooth and greased, and by means of a number of tackles and capstans the obelisk, weighing about 240 tons, was slowly lowered and drawn down the inclined plane and placed in the ship. These operations were completed by December 19, when the vessel was released from the sand and re-rigged, and on December 25 proceeded down the river. The obelisk was set up in the Place de la Concorde, Paris, by Lebas in 1836.

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    Science News a Century Ago. Nature 134, 73–74 (1934).

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