The Axum obelisk in Piazza Porta Capena outside the headquarters of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is due to be returned to Ethiopia in September or early October at the latest. Restoration of the 2-m granite stele, which was damaged by lightning last summer, was completed earlier this year, and new scaffolding has now gone up around the monument pending dismantling. The project for the delicate procedure, which involves dividing the fourth-century obelisk into sections for the journey, has seen the collaboration of engineer Giorgio Croci, who was responsible for reconstructing the roof of the basilica of S. Francesco in Assisi after it was partly destroyed by an earthquake in 1997. Once dismantled, the obelisk will be flown to Ethiopia where it is due to be reassembled at its original site in Axum. The stele was brought to Italy by Mussolini in 1937 and has been the subject of controversy for decades.
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