Freestanding monument in Egyptian sanctuaries, which represents a shaft of sunlight. The oldest excavated obelisk at ABU GHUROB (V Dynasty, 25th C BC) was a massive masonry structure with a pyramidical top, set upon a high plinth which was the focal point of the sun temple.
From the Middle Kingdom onwards, pairs of obelisks were erected in front of a temple on the occasion of a Royal Jubilee. These were much slimmer and taller than the Old Kingdom versions and were hewn from a single block of stone (mainly Aswan granite) (see KARNAK, LUXOR). Their sides were often inscribed, and the pyramidical top was cased in gold which dazzlingly reflected the light of the sun.
Obelisk of Hatshepsut, Karnak