Ethiopia’s famed 150-ton granite obelisk of Axum, a listed World Heritage Site, is being re-erected at its original site after 70 years.
Work began on June 5 to resurrect the 1,700-year-old treasure which was removed by invading Italian troops in 1938. The Italian government returned the obelisk in three pieces in 2005.
“The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has the mandate of the operation and the Italians will cover the cost of 40 million Ethiopian birr” said the project’s engineer, Tadele Bitul Kibret to VOA.
Italian soldiers carted away the 24-meter tall obelisk on the orders of then-dictator Benito Mussolini during his attempt to colonize Ethiopia.
Despite a 1947 agreement to return the obelisk, it remained in Italy until 2005, standing outside the Rome headquarters of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
Taddelle said, “We haven’t faced any obstacles in the re-erection process yet and we have planned for a celebration on September in the Ethiopian new year.”
Axum was the capital of the Axumite kingdom that flourished as a major trading center from the fifth century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. The kingdom extended across portions of modern Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.