My old friend, de gli obelischi di Roma by Michele Mercati is an in depth treatment of the Egyptian Obelisks in Rome. So to begin with I set the topic of conversation to obelisk and started the conversation with Alice by also typing obelisk. Up came some reasonably interesting results which made me aware of the significance of obelisks in architectural history. The topic is even discussed in scientific journals such as the Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes. Since I can’t read Italian, which my book book is written in, I found it particularly interesting to start reading quotes such as the following by Gaylard in Hollow Men “The obelisk is a “very solid stone” carved with letters, which renders eternal the memory of various historical personages.” It is interesting to read quotes like this from a book published in 2013 since Mercati lived and wrote in the 16th century. Gaylard is not directly concerns with the obelisk, rather her topic of interest is the renaissance. But there is a relation to obelisk through the the topics of monumentality statues and colossi. Anthony Grafton also mentions the obelisks in Rome in his book about Leon Battista Alberti. This again shows the significance of the obelisks when it comes to architectural history.
Mercati was responsible for the restoration of the Lateran Obelisk. This fact inspired me to look for texts about the logistics of heavy objects. I couldn’t find anything directly related but something interesting I stumbled upon was the following quote from Vitruvius’ ten books on architecture: “Birds have less earth, less moisture, a moderate amount of heat, and a great deal of air: therefore, composed as they are of lighter elements, they are more easily supported on moving air.” I’m interested in moving heavy objects and Alice produces quotes about the lightness of birds. Great!