NYC to study condition of 3,500-year-old obelisk

July 7, 2011 2:33:31 PM PDT
It's the mystery of Cleopatra's Needle: Is New York City weather damaging a 3,500-year-old obelisk that has graced Central Park since 1881?

The obelisk was a gift to the United States from Egypt to commemorate the opening of the Suez Canal.

In January, the minister of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities wrote that the obelisk's stay in New York had worn away its hieroglyphics and that acid rain was destroying it. He threatened to take steps to bring Cleopatra's Needle back to Egypt.

But Egypt is not necessarily a safe place for artifacts. Looters ransacked the Egyptian Museum in Cairo during the upheaval there this year.

The New York Times reports that New York City's Parks Department is conducting a study of the effects of weather on the obelisk.