Ancient Granite Quarry and the Unfinished Obelisk


  Location : Aswan, Egypt   Year : 2001  

Owner : Supreme Council of



Work-scope : Preliminary Design

and Implementation Supervision

The ancient Egyptians were known for their ambitions to shape nature, and the obelisk was possibly the pinnacle of that architectural creativity, manifesting the rapport between human ambition and nature’s ability to encompass it. And so the obelisk came to be a symbol of the ancient Egyptian’s unhindered imagination that transcended the perceived limits of possibility into cosmic limitlessness.

Here, in the Ancient Granite Quarry, the Unfinished Obelisk presents us with a rare insight into the conception of the monolith, and the ingenious forces behind it. Together with the intact original rockscape of granite, and the pits where obelisks had been successfully extracted – revealed after tons of debris were cleared- the site came to showcase the entire creative cycle of the obelisk.

  The Heritage Plan

The Ancient Granite Quarry covered a total area of 6,000,000 m2 punctuated by three known finds; The Unfinished Obelisk in the north, rock carved stelae to the west, and an unfinished statue of Ramses II to the south east.

The project to rehabilitate the Ancient Granite Quarry focused on the area surrounding the Unfinished Obelisk, as it is one of a few non-royal ancient Egyptian sites open to the public..

The programme included;

- Mapping the extent of the ancient quarrying activity surrounding the Unfinished Obelisk and actions to be taken to clear interventions on the site such as a rubbish landfill and various unplanned structures.

- A Site Management Plan to manage the conservation of the site during its use as a tourist destination by providing visitor information and services as well as well marked routes through the site.

As work commenced a number of interesting finds were made. Seven obelisk pits were revealed, all following the main grain of the granite bedrock. A stela marking the site of an obelisk extracted by Tuthmose III was found as well as numerous rock carvings including fish and ostriches.


The project was completed in 2005.