Below is an excerpt from this article at Archaeology Magazine Online, which features descriptions and expandable pictures of Egyptian obelisks around the world, including Cleopatra's Needle in London, England and Ramesses II's obelisks at Place de la Concorde in Paris, France. At the bottom there are links to previous and further stories on obelisks (not necessarily Egyptian):
The obelisk originated during Egypt's Old Kingdom (2584-2117 B.C.) as a small solid structure associated with the sun-deity Re. Pharaoh Senworset I (1974-1929 B.C.) constructed the first giant obelisk at Heliopolis during the Middle Kingdom (2066-1650 B.C). Giant Egyptian obelisks weigh hundreds of tons and are composed of solid pieces of granite quarried at Aswan in southern Egypt. Modern obelisks, big and small, are found all over the world and the U.S. from the Washington Monument, to war memorials, to the grave markers of presidents (Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln's tombs all include obelisk memorials). New York City is filled with obelisks, and a tour of them will take you all over Manhattan and beyond to view monuments, tombstones, and even an authentic Egyptian original, known as Cleopatra's Needle. But how and why did the obelisk become and remains so popular?
It may seem a bit morbid (and certainly too soon to be considering this), but I'd like to have an obelisk for a tombstone, complete with hieroglyphic inscriptions and my name bound in a cartouche. With that, no, I do not want to be mummified! Everyone always asks me that :/