People's Daily -- An Ethiopian delegation left for France on Wednesday to discuss ways of re-erecting the historic Axum obelisk with the United Nations.
The Axum obelisk, weighing 160 tons and standing 24 meters high, is around 1,700 years old and has become a symbol of the Ethiopian people's identity. In 1937, the invaders of fascist Italy dismantled and took it on the orders of Benito Mussolini. Italy returned the monument to the northern ancient town of Axum in April.
The delegation, led by Minister of Culture Teshome Toga, left for the headquarters of UNESCO to discuss studies conducted by Ethiopia and the organization concerning the re-erection of the obelisk as well as to set a timeframe for the re-erection.
He said the delegation will return with a specific timetable for the archeological studies and other necessary preparations.
"The re-erection of the obelisk should be done safely," he said, adding that Ethiopia has been jointly working with UNESCO on the re-erection site.
In addition to efforts exerted for the return of its heritage, Ethiopia has conducted archeological, basement studies as well as other preparations needed for the re-erection of the obelisk, according to the minister.
Teshome said the government believes that it would be useful to engage the company that transported the obelisk from Rome and the consultant company in the re-erection process.
He said the Italian government will cover the cost needed for the re-erection of the obelisk.
Following the signing of two agreements by Italy and Ethiopia, in 1956 and 1997, Ethiopia formed a national committee for the return of the obelisk.
Ethiopia is one of the oldest continuous civilizations in the world. The first known civilization in Ethiopia was that of the mighty Aksumite Kingdom.
Having established itself in 1,000 BC, in northern Ethiopia, it eventually spread over all of northern and even central Ethiopia. The ancient city of Axum, which was started by the Aksumites, was Ethiopia's first capital city.
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