Photo of George Rapanos George Rapanos: A Quest for Religious Transformation
There is a Hidden Treasure,
Most search for it in vain.
It comes down from heaven,
And it falls like the rain.

- George Rapanos

History of the Obelisk

Obelisks were carved and raised by many ancient Egyptian pharaohs in the Middle and New Kingdoms, but the most impressive examples were created in the 15th century B.C. These magnificent "skyscrapers of the past" were carved from a single piece of granite, could rise over 100 feet, and weighed as much as 450 tons. For centuries, obelisks remained on of the world's greatest engineering feats and mysteries.

In 1994, the award winning PBS science program NOVA set out to solve the puzzle by transporting and erecting a large scale obelisk using tools and materials available in ancient times, for the special television mini-series, "Secrets of Lost Empires."

The first attempt was made in Aswan, Egypt in January, 1995. Led by Eqyptian expert Ali el Gasab, the ream used a ramp and lever to maneuver their 30-ton obelisk to an angle of about 40 degrees, but they failed to raise the stone to vertical. In March 1999, NOVA returned to Aswan with engineer Mart Whitby who tried to rotate to obelisk with a complex rope and wood contraption, but this attempt was aborted due to lack of control.

Finally, in September 1999, at the Fletcher Granite Quarry in Chelmsford, Massachisetts, sculptor Rick Brown organized a final attempt. The new 30-ton obelisk, quarried in New Hampsire, was laid horizontally atop an earthen ramp. The wider, lower half of the obelisk sat upon a large "sandbox." When the sand was removed fro below, the obelisk slowly rotated toward its turning stone pedestal. Three large brake ropes helped control the delicate needle's descent to an angle of 75 degrees. Finally, 112 volunteers provided the human muscle to pull the obelisk upright.

In March 2000, NOVA teamed up with eBay to auction off the 36-foot, 30-ton obelisk. Retired pharmacist and poet, George Rapanos won the auction. Ten percent of the proceeds of the sale went to benefit New York City inner city public school I.S. 90, reflecting NOVA's mission of science literacy for school children and the remainder was used directly for the production of NOVA documentaries.

Rapanos has long contemplated the construction of an obelisk to be dedicated to the memory of his parents Alexandros Nicolaous Rapanos and Nicoleta (Agnostropoulos) Rapanos and other immigrants to America. After securing the obelisk Rapanos was looking for a location for it. While having dinner at the annual Presidents Club for Ferris State University he mentioned what he was attempting to do to University President William Sederburg. It was there that the obelisk would find its home, as the center of the "Circle Of Inspiration".

The Circle of Inspiration can be found on the west end of the Ferris State University campus in an area called Bond Circle. The entire project includes the obelisk, granite benches, landscaping and several bronze plaques. Some of the plaques are inscribed with Rapanos' own poetry and others await to be inscribed with the inspiring words of others. "The obelisk represents the ray of light, coming from God to enlighten all mankind." What I want is to inspire love and transcendence in people."

"Man does not live merely to serve higher ideals, but that these ideals, in their turn, furnish the necessary conditions of his existance as a human being."


History of the Obelisk
Pharaoh's Obelisk Arrives on Campus - Ferris State University Campus News October 25, 2001
Circle of Inspiration Dedicated - Ferris State Torch September 25, 2002
Ancient Ways Modern Means - Ferris State University Crimson & Gold Winter 2002
NOVA "Pharaoh's Obelisk" Program Summary
Information on Circle of Inspiration
Circle of Inspiration Dedication Speech by George Rapanos
Dedication Photos September 18, 2002
Obelisk Erected Using Modern Equipment
Spectacular View of The Obelisk at Night
The Circle of Inspiration Obelisk Poster
Bronze Plaques Circling the Obelisk - PDF
Bronze Plaques Circling the Obelisk - Photos
Under Construction Photos
Obelisk Aerial Photo