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Exhibition of Aksum Obelisk Re-installation opens in Rome

Thursday, 26 November 2009
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On 25 November 2009, the exhibition 'Aksum Rediscovered: the Re-installation of the Obelisk' was opened in Rome, Italy at the Headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The exhibition illustrates the re-installation of the Aksum Obelisk from where it stood in front of the FAO Headquarters for several decades, to its original location at the Aksum World Heritage site in Ethiopia. It coincided with the Inauguration of ICCROM's XXVI General Assembly.

Following the return of the Aksum Obelisk from Rome to its original location in Ethiopia in April 2005, at the joint request of the Governments of Ethiopia and Italy, UNESCO led the re-installation of the 152-ton and 24-metre high obelisk at the Aksum World Heritage site. The re-installation was a technical feat, considered to be the most delicate and difficult operation of its kind after the re-positioning of the Abu Simbel and Philae Temples in Egypt in the 1970s.

The 1,700 year-old Obelisk has come to represent the identity of the Ethiopian people. In a speech at the opening of the exhibition, Senator Alfredo Mantica, the Italian Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, remarked, "It is through symbols and the reconstitution of symbols that a nation's identity can be built." Mr A.G. Aseffa, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the FAO, said, "The Obelisk is a symbol of identity and pride not only for Ethiopians but for all Africans and indeed Africans of the Diaspora."

The exhibition illustrates the re-installation project, as well as the town of Aksum and its people, through the work of several artists who followed the process. It will be open from 25 November to 4 December 2009.

The Italian Government generously funded the Aksum Obelisk Re-installation Project and the exhibition.