Obelisk Unique

Related Features

Originally built by Thutmose IV – 1401 BCE to 1391 BCE

Other works initiated by Thutmose IV:

Obelisk Unique, Thutmose IV Peristyle Hall, Pylon and Festival Court of Thutmose II


The unique obelisk, also known as the “Lateran obelisk,” was the largest obelisk ever raised at Karnak. It stood east of the core Amun-Ra temple, in an area of Karnak focused on the worship of solar gods. The obelisk remained at Karnak until CE 330, when the Roman emperor Constantine ordered it brought to the city of Constantinople. However, engineers could not manage to move the obelisk out of the port of Alexandria. It was not until CE 356 that the obelisk was moved to Rome and erected at the Circus Maximus. Later it was toppled and broke into three pieces. It was re-erected in the 16th century where it stands now in the Piazza san Giovanni in Laterano, Rome.
Measurements: The obelisk measures 33.1m in height, the tallest ever to stand at Karnak.

Phases of Construction

Thutmose IV

Thutmose III commissioned the unique obelisk, but the king died before the monolith was erected at Karnak. His grandson, Thutmose IV, raised the obelisk, intending for it to stand as a single monument, rather than in a pair. Thutmose IV added two lines of vertical inscriptions flanking those of his grandfather on each face.

Construction materials: rose granite

About the reconstruction model of Thutmose IV

The model reconstruction was based on the known height of the obelisk and photographs of the monument today. The four sides of the obelisk of the “Lateran” obelisk were photographed in Rome and placed on the model. They were placed according to the directional indications given by Bell (2002: 24 and note 48).

Modern Site Photos


Bell, Lanny. Beinlich, Horst (2002),Divine kingship and the theology of the obelisk cult in the temples of Thebes. Ägyptologische Tempeltagung : Würzburg, 23.-26. September 1999. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlagvol. 5 , 17-46.

Dondelinger, Edmund. (1977),Der Obelisk : ein Steinmal ägyptischer Weltanschauung. Graz: Akadem. Druck- u. Verlagsanst

Marucchi, Orazio. (1898),Gli obelischi egiziani di Roma. Rome: E. Loescher & Co