Zahi Hawass, the Secretary General of The Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, has sent a concerned letter to the mayor of New York City and the president of the Central Park Conservancy to express his concern that not enough care is being given to preserve Cleopatra’s Needle.
I write to you as someone who shares a mutual interest in conserving precious historical treasures for future generations. I applaud the efforts of the City of New York and the Central Park Conservancy in restoring this beautiful space, but I would like to draw your attention to a monument that I, and many others, believe have been overlooked in the park.
I am sure you are well aware of the obelisk of Thutmose III, referred to as “Cleopatra’s Needle,” that has resided in Central Park since 1880. I am glad that this monument has become such an integral part of New York City, but I am dismayed at the lack of care and attention that it has been given. Recent photographs that I have received show the severe damage that has been done to the obelisk, particularly to the hieroglyphic text, which in places has been completely worn away. I have a duty to protect all Egyptian monuments whether they are inside or outside of Egypt. If the Central Park Conservancy and the City of New York cannot properly care for this obelisk, I will take the necessary steps to bring this precious artifact home and save it from ruin.
I strongly urge you to focus your efforts on saving this obelisk and preserving it for future generations. I am confident that you can find the resources in New York City to conserve this monument properly and pay this treasure the respect that it deserves. I eagerly await your prompt reply.