The 'Minerveo' obelisk (5.47 m), which stands in Piazza della Minerva, was first erected in Sais by the pharaoh Apries (r. 589-570 BCE). Nothing is known about how the obelisk reached Rome, but it seems certain that it was part of the Iseum Campense (Temple of Isis and Serapis).
The obelisk was unearthed in 1665 in the garden of the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva during the reign of Pope Alexander VII (r. 1655-67). It was soon decided to set it up in front of the church. Many proposals were submitted for the design of the base, but in the end the decision was made to place the obelisk on an elephant, which stands on a pedestal.
The pedestal sports two inscriptions, which were dictated by Alexander VII. On the east face: SAPIENTIS AEGYPTI / INSCVLPTAS OBELISCO FIGVRAS / AB ELEPHANTO / BELLVARVM FORTISSIMA / GESTARI QVISQVIS HIC VIDES / DOCVMENTVM INTELLIGE / ROBVSTAE MENTIS ESSE / SOLIDAM SAPIENTIAM SVSTINERE (Let any beholder of the carved images of the wisdom of Egypt on the obelisk carried by the elephant, the strongest of beasts, realise that it takes a robust mind to carry solid wisdom).
And on the west face: VETEREM OBELISCVM / PALLADIS AEGYPTIAE MONVMENTVM / E TELLVRE ERVTVM / IBI IN MINERVAE OLIM / NVNC DEIPARAE GENITRICIS / TORO ERECTVM / DIVINAE SAPIENTIAE / ALEXANDER VII DEDICAVIT / ANNO SAL MDCLXVII (Alexander VII dedicated to divine wisdom this ancient obelisk, a monument of the Egyptian Athena, unearthed and set up in the square, once Minerva's now belonging to the Mother of God, in the year of Salvation, 1667).