The Unfinished Obelisk lies, in its original location, in a granite quarry in Aswan. It is 42 m in length and was most probably abandoned when some cracks appeared in the rock, during its construction.
Had this obelisk been completed, it would have been the heaviest obelisk ever cut in Ancient Egypt, weighing nearly 1100 tons! It is believed that it was constructed and abandoned during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty).
During the 5th Dynasty, the obelisk began to play an important role inside the temples of Ra; the obelisk being a sacred symbol of the cult of the sun. They were erected on a great base in an open court, and then as the suns rays fell on its pyramidal top, the bright light filled the Temple, giving the people a symbol of the power of the sun.
In the New Kingdom, especially at the time of the 18th and 19th Dynasties, the Kings used to erect obelisks in front of the different temples for religious and political reasons. It is now known that the main tool employed for carving the granite were small balls of Dolerite which is a mineral harder than granite, as seen at the open air museum/quarry at Aswan, Egypt today.
The discovery of this Unfinished obelisk and several others in their unfinished states allows us to see how they were made. The means of separating the stone from the bedrock was a common technique used around the ancient world, in which small cavities were made in the stone, which were then filled with wood, which was soaked in water causing it to expand.