Modern ships can haul some extremely large cargo, such as oil rigs and ships (yes, ships on ships), but even ancient seafarers took challenges in what they could carry from one part of the world to the next. A post at Ship It looks at some of those challenges of the past and present. One story is about how a ship was built around an artifact called Cleopatra's Needle in order to ship it.
In 1819, Mohammad Ali, leader of Egypt and Sudan, presented the UK with a gift. In honour of Britan's success in the Battle of the Nile and the Battle of Alexandria, Ali kindly gave away a huge, carved Egyptian Obelisk. The UK was grateful, but couldn't cover the cost of shipping the ancient, 21 metre high, 224 tonne structure. In 1877, pioneering doctor Sir William James Erasmus Wilson agreed to pay for the obelisk to be brought to the UK. It was encased in iron, which was fitted with a rudder, a stern and masts. Cleopatra, as the vessel was dubbed, was essentially a bespoke ship made especially for the needle. On her way to the UK, Cleopatra, her crew and precious cargo almost perished in a storm in the Bay of Biscay. Thankfully, everyone made it home in one piece and Cleopatra's Needle remains a true London landmark.