Listed as a World Heritage Site
in 1980, now stands at Axum after a 71-year absence.Officials from the Ethiopian and Italian governments and from
international organizations came to the northern Ethiopia’s historic city of
Axum to celebrate the re-installation of the 1,700-year-old symbol of
Ethiopia’s ancient history.
Meles Zenawi, addressed that “Ethiopians in general, the new generation in
particular, should promise today to work on the renaissance of the ceased
Axumite civilization with the re-erection of the Obelisk.”
The 150-ton granite obelisk was first
Axum was the capital of the
Axumite kingdom that flourished as a major trading center from the fifth
century BC to the 10th century AD. The kingdom extended across areas in what
are today Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen.
During Benito Mussolini’s failed attempt to
colonize Ethiopia, Italian soldiers carted away the 24-meter, third-century AD
granite obelisk in 1937.
Despite a 1947
agreement to return the obelisk, it remained in Italy until 2005, standing
outside the Rome headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.Work was begun on June 5 to resurrect the
obelisk which was returned to Ethiopia broken into three pieces in 2005.
Françoise Riviere, Assistant Director for the General for Culture of
The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, said “UNESCO will
actively pursue its cooperation with the people of Ethiopia to preserve their
rich cultural heritage in a sustainable manner. With the tone of the new
great monument we are inaugurating today rises as a powerful symbol of the
international community’s commitment to help build bright future for Ethiopia.
Pisackova, a 19-year-old woman from the Czech Republic, told VOA, “It is nice
that the Italians gave it back because it was not right to steal it as it
happens during the wars. So, it is nice that this happened and I like the
atmosphere of the connection between Europe and Africa, between Ethiopia and
the rest of the world, UNESCO; I like how people are aware of the world
heritage. The monuments should be in their particular place where they have
Residents of Axum presented gifts to those who
contributed to the return and re-erection of the obelisk.