The little obelisk of red granite, 5.47 metres tall, was constructed in the 6th century BC by the Pharaoh Apries, and was rediscovered in the Dominican convent of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Immediately after the discovery, Pope Alexander VII Chigi decided to erect it in the square in front of the church, and entrusted the design of the monument to Bernini, who thought up the elephant as a base. For the creation of the monument, Bernini allegedly drew inspiration from a novel published in the late 1500s by Francesco Colonna, mindful of the symbolism of Egyptian hieroglyphics. In fact, the stele should represent the divine wisdom that descends from the strong mind depicted by the elephant, as is also stated in the inscription on the base, with the warning from Alexander VII: "a strong mind is necessary to support solid wisdom". The monument is known as the "Pulcino della Minerva" (Minerva's Chick), which derives form the 18th century name of "Porcin della Minerva" (Minerva's Piglet), which stressed the elephant's resemblance to a piglet.