Cleopatra’s Needle

Going on class trips in the city are unlike going on class trips anywhere else. Or, they should be – instead of going to the local nuclear power plant or chocolate factory (okay, I saw that on The Simpsons; does anyone really do that?), we find outselves in the Dia Center for the Arts, or the Bronx Zoo, or the Brooklyn Botanical Garden or (ugah) the Intrepid (where I haven’t been able to return since). More often than not, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (which has art for every unit, from pre-Greco-Roman to past the Renaissance) and ended our trips with lunch at Cleopatra’s Needle. If you’re unfamiliar with the structure, its an obelisk outside Temple of Dendur that (if memory serves) was airlifted from Cairo. All around the obelisk, there are hyroglyphics relating, well, something, and on the base, there’s the english inscription, courtesy of egyptologists. In my twelve-year-old memory, the hyroglyphs are clear as day, but on visiting the site recently, most of the glyphs on one side are practically worn away and saddest of all, you can see the indentations where they had been expertly carved millenia ago. I guess, you have to take into consideration that my memories are from almost a decade ago – nearly ten years of New York City rain and snow. The Egyptians were bright and the obelisk was built to last, but I’m sure that even they couldn’t have factored Mid-Atlantic weather patterns into the equation during construction. Then again, given how bright the Egyptians were, they probably knew (unlike me) that not even stone could last forever.

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