The obelisk was brought from ancient Egypt by the Romans. It was then re-used by Bernini to top his "Fountain of the Four Rivers.
It stands in front of Borromini's church of St. Agnes. Borromini was once Berninis student and there was great rivalry between them, so much so that popular myth abounds for the rivalry between the fountain and the church.
Undoubtedly, many critics of the day were certain that the obelisk could never be made to stand on such a light support, and yet it still stands.
The hieroglyphics on the obelisk were added on around the time the fountain was made.
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