Baalbek is located in the Beqaa Valley which is in the foothills of the anti-Lebanon mountains,
approximately 50 miles North North East of Lebanon’s capital city, Beirut.
It is the administrative and economic centre of the northern Beqaa Valley, as well as being the historical home of the Shia Muslim political and military organisation, Hezbollah. It is famous for the ‘Roman’ ruins located within the town, which are known as Heliopolis and contain, amongst others, the Temple of Jupiter.
Dating of the site varies from scholar to scholar; in the 3 rd century BC the Greeks identified the ‘God of Baalbek’ with the ‘Sun God’ and called the city Heliopolis, meaning City of the Sun. (Gray 2017).
Archaeological findings at the site have been linked to both the early and middle Bronze Age (2900–1600BC) and it has also been suggested the site has a link to King Solomon, due to a biblical passage, 1 Kings IX 17-19 (Upton 2009).
However most scholars disagree and avoid or disregard this possible link?
In Circa 15 BC Roman Emperor Julius Cesar placed a legion at the location and further development
of the site began, including the building of the Temple of Jupiter, which is built upon a platform made of enormous stone megaliths, the most famous of which are the 3 gigantic stones in the Western wall known as the Trilithon.
Over the next 1500 years Baalbeck has been destroyed and rebuilt after earthquakes and invasion by the Omyyad, Abbasid, Toulounid, Fatimid, Ayyoubid and Mongolian empires (Upton 2009). This has led too much of the site being knocked down and rebuilt many many times with the base on which the Temple of Jupiter is built being the exception, due to the size and weight of the stones.
Where Was The Stone Quarried?
The stone for the Trilithon was quarried from a number of sites that are within a mile of the temple complex. One such site contained a large stone cut block that was still attached to the bedrock at its base and was known as the ‘Hajjar Al-Hibla’ or ‘Stone of the Pregnant Woman’.
Until recently this block was considered the largest cut stone block known to man but excavations around its base uncovered a further two cut stones lying prepared next to it but still both attached to the rock at their base.
The weights of the blocks are estimated to be between 1500 -2000 Tonnes and again, this
figure depends on who is doing the estimating and their particular belief.
Understandably, and quite rightly, there are a range of alternative theories on who and how the
blocks were cut and moved. There are a number of local legends associated with the Baalbek
1) It was built by ‘Cain’ in order to allow him to hide from God.
2) The complex was built by Giants at Nimrods request and was called the ‘Tower of Babel’.
3) It was built by King Solomon, with Djinns assistance, as a palace for the Queen of Sheba.
Zecharia Sitchin proposed the theory that the base on which the temple of Jupiter was built on, was in fact remnants of the original construction and that it had been built many thousands of years before the Romans arrived. Sitchins theory proposed the original base structure had been used as a landing / launch pad by a space faring race, the memory of which has been lost to the mists of time.
To support his theory Sitchin referred to some of the oldest written history known to man, that of the Sumarians and The Epic of Gilgamesh.
To Quote Sitchins work.. (Sitchins 2017).
Precision of Construction
There are a number of interesting facts regarding the positioning of the Trilithon stones..
Firstly is the precision with which they are placed. There is a seamless fit with the stones below and next to them, which demonstrates the accuracy with which they were cut and laid.
Secondly is that the Trilithon blocks are not the base layer of the complex, but are placed at the top!!? To achieve this the builders cut, moved and lifted 1500-2000 tonne blocks to the top of what needed to be a very strong and accurately built base. The other stones forming the base layer of the Temple of Jupiter, are themselves impressive weighing in at 400-600 tonne.
The Construction of the Trilithon and the base section does not match Roman building techniques
seen at any other location within the known Roman empire, but does have striking similarities to
locations on the opposite side of the planet, such as Ollantaytambo in Peru and Tiahuanaco & Puma Punku in Bolivia. (These two locations also both have similar myths and legends involving ‘The Gods’
& landing sites?)
1) Firstly, the obvious. How were the stones moved? Mainstream will stick rigidly to the ‘it was
manpower and a fashioned rope’ scenario. There are even quite intricate drawings of
people’s ideas on the methods used, but all of these suggest only dragging these circa 1800 tonne stones.
- To get the stones out of the vertical sided quarry….
- To allow for the underside of each stone to be cut with the accuracy that has enabled
it to be placed with such precision on top of previous layers….
- To get it to the top of the structure….
All of the above would require a vertical lift. This would need lifting points / devices
which would be capable of taking the entire weight of the block, of which we know the
heaviest to be circa 1800 tonnes. A system is only as strong as its weakest link.
2) Despite destruction by earthquakes, numerous invading empires wrecking the site and then using the destroyed blocks to rebuild it, the base section on which the Temple of Jupiter was built, remained the same and undamaged?
3) Why is the weathering of the stone blocks in the Trilithon and in the base, more severe than that on all other parts of the known Roman site? Does this suggest the base has been in situ longer?
4) Why does the construction technique on the base not match the rest of the Roman
architecture at the site or anywhere else, match that seen in the base?
5) Why do ancient written records suggest the base site has been found and built upon by
successive empires stretching back through known history?
6) Why is there no mention of the construction of the base section in any of the historical writings
of the empire it has been ascribed to (i.e Roman)? This matches the lack of Egyptian written claims for construction of the Great Pyramid; the greatest structure the Romans apparently ever built, but they make no mention of building it??
7) Why do we see similar construction methods and myths and legends at sites on the opposite
side of the world?
Consider the thoughts of a Scottish traveller in the 1850’s, a David Urquhart, who said he was..
“Paralyzed” by “the impossibility of any solution.” To the “riddles” posed by the giant stones—“so
enormous, as to shut out every other thought, and yet to fill the mind only with trouble.”
If you walked past them today you would think…’that must have been a bloody big crane’
It’s all about perception, people will draw a conclusion based on what they know at that particular
time. As our knowledge increases why are we not amending the way we view what we see??
Abdul Massih, J., (2015). The Megalithic Quarry of BaalBek. PennState University Press [online at] http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/10.5325/jeasmedarcherstu. 3.4.0313.pdf?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents> [viewed on 02 January 2017].
Batuman., E., (2014) The Myth of the Megalith. The New Yorker [online at] https://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/baalbek-myth-megalith> [viewed 02 January2017].
Gray., M. (2017). Places of Peace and Power. [online]https://sacredsites.com/
middle_east/lebanon/baalbek.html>. [viwed on02 January 2017].
Upton, D., (2009). Starting from Baalbek: Noah, Solomon, Saladin, and the Fluidity of Architectural History. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 68(4), pp.457-465.