Ancient obelisk looted by Mussolini to be re-erected in Ethiopia after 70 years

June 2nd, 2008 - 2:28 pm ICT by admin  

London, June 2 (ANI): An ancient obelisk, looted by Mussolini from the holy city of Axum in 1937, is going to be re-erected on a plateau in the north of Ethiopia this month.

According to a report in The Art Newspaper, the obelisk, which was earlier re-erected by Mussolini in Rome, was returned to the Ethiopia in 2005.

The obelisk, dismantled into three pieces by Mussolinis troops, arrived in Axum 58 years late. The 1947 peace treaty between Italy and the victorious powers in World War II decreed that the obelisk be returned within 18 months.

UNESCO officials have now confirmed that the ancient structure would be re-erected in the east African nation.

Nada Al Hassan, a programme specialist at the Unesco World Heritage Centre, told The Art Newspaper that work is scheduled to start on May 15.

The 4 million dollar project, funded by Unesco and the Italian government, will last a month, with the obelisk to be completed in place by June 15.

A delegation from Unesco, led by Francesco Bandarin, director of the World Heritage Centre, was in Axum in March this year to arrange the re-erection of the 160-tonne, 27-metre-high stone pillar, which dates from the fourth century AD.

Unesco was invited by the Ethiopian government to work on the project in October 2005.

In 2006, Unesco experts undertook remote sensing investigations of the archaeological area to prepare the ground for the re-erection.

Once in place, the monument will be partially obscured by a steel tower used to lift it into position. This will be removed when the column is restored over the following months.

The site is sensitive because the obelisk is the second of a group of six that may have been carved when Christianity first arrived in Ethiopia in the first half of the fourth century.
Believed to be enormous tombstones, they range from 17 to 33 metres in height, each one unique, but all carved to resemble a block of dwellings several storeys high. (ANI)

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