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Baalbek: Temple of the Giants

In 2014 the largest worked monolith in the world was discovered in the ancient quarry at Baalbek, Lebanon. It is estimated to be over 500-tons heavier than the former record holder which lies across the road to the west in the second quarry (weighing 1242-tons). A third monolith called the ‘Stone of the Pregnant Woman’, or the Hajar el Hibla, weighs an estimated 1000-tons, that virtually sits on top of the newly discovered 1650-ton block. None of these stones made it to the famous Roman ‘Temple of Jupiter’, some 800 metres northeast in the Beqaa Valley. Several others did, that weighed about half as much as the newly discovered stone.

Baalbek @ Hugh Newman

Prof. Janine Abdel Massih and the German Archaeological Institute made the discovery, after clearing debris and dirt, to eventually reveal the magnitude of this find. The 1650-ton stone was still partly buried under a few feet of dirt, and has been measured at 19.6 metres long, 6 metres wide and 5.5 metres thick. She said in July 2014 “Because we have not yet reached the bottom of the rock to be completely clearedwe have no idea of the volume or complete dimension of this ancient stone.” (1). They do now! The outline of it can be seen in these images, and shows a kind of precision found in ancient Peru and Egypt. They were no doubt destined for the main temple site and show that a highly advanced culture must have been present in this area thousands of years ago. Officially Baalbek was built by the Romans in 27 BC. However, ancient folklore, from the inhabitants of the area, who include Arab Muslims, Maronite Christians and Orthodox Christians refer to this area as once being inhabited by giants, who were said to be responsible for the original construction of the temple.

Megalithomania series on Baalbek: Part 1

Let us not get carried away here. All the biggest stones are still in the quarry, so we know they were not transported anywhere. Remember, the ‘Stone of the Pregnant Woman’ weighs 1000-tons, and the one in the other quarry weighs 1242-tons. The new king of megaliths is a staggering 1650-tons. To put it in perspective, the biggest weights the Romans could manage were a relatively light 323-tons (Laterano obelisk) that was a decades long transportation project. The largest stone at Stonehenge weighs around 45-tons, so this is over 36 times heavier.

Several 400-ton and 800-ton stone blocks did make their way from the quarry to the temple, were raised 20 feet in to the air and were placed with machine-like precision into the foundations of this mighty ancient complex. The biggest ones make up the ‘Trilithon’ part of what is now thought to be a retaining wall (2). Each block is over 19 metres long, 4.3 metres high and 3.6 metres broad.

Baalbek @ Hugh Newman

How could Romans have got them from the quarry to the main site, and then placed them so accurately, three stories above the ground level? In 1977, Jean-Pierre Adam made a study suggesting they could have been moved on rollers with machines using capstans and pulley blocks, a process which he suggested could use 512 workers to move a 557-ton block (almost half as heavy as the trilithon blocks) (3). However, this does not explain how they were then lifted in to place. Other estimates say that it would take 40,000 men to move them up to the main temple. There still seems to be a healthy debate about this, so it’s understandable that giants have been credited with such an achievement.

The weathering on the larger blocks also looks like it has been there for a lot longer than the Roman features. French scholar, Louis F. licien de Saulcy, explored Baalbek in March 1851 and was quickly convinced that the retaining walls were the “remains of a pre-Roman temple” (4). French archaeologist Ernest Renan said that when he arrived there it was to satisfy his own conviction that no pre-Roman remains existed on the site (5). Yet following an in depth study of the ruins, Renan came to the conclusion that the stones of the Trilithon were very possibly “of Phoenician origin”. In other words they were a great deal older that the Roman temple complex. His reasoning was that basically he saw no relationship between the obvious Roman construction and the evidently much earlier phase of the great megalithic platform.

Megalithomania series on Baalbek: Part 2

This did not stop modern scholars and academics championing the Roman claim on Baalbek, but did the Romans really have the capability to construct such a site, and did they even need to? There is an absolute absence of any Roman records to indicate that they did it. The biggest stone ever moved by the Romans was 323 tons (as noted above), and its journey spanned the reign of three emperors (6). If they could transport the Laterano obelisk from Egypt to Rome (over a 50 year period), surely they could move these slightly larger blocks from the quarry up to the Temple site at Baalbek, however long it took? Evidence from 27 BC might be useful here because Emperor Augustus of Rome, ordered a massive obelisk from Karnak Temple to be transported to Rome, but the effort was quickly abandoned. Its estimated weight was 455-tons (with other estimates as low as 320-tons). Unable to move the obelisk, Augustus took two other obelisks from the Sun Temple in Heliopolis. The obelisks are now in the Piazza del Popolo (235-tons), and the Piazza di Montecitorio (230-tons), both a fraction of the size of the Baalbek trilithon stones.

Graham Hancock argues that it simply could not have been the Romans who built Baalbek: “I believe these huge megaliths long predate the construction of the Temple of Jupiter and are likely to be 12,000 or more years old, contemporaneous with the megalithic site of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey. I suggest we are looking at the handiwork of the survivors of a lost civilisation, that the Romans built their Temple of Jupiter on a pre-existing, 12,000-years-old megalithic foundation, and that they were unaware of the giant hewn megaliths in the ancient quarry as these were covered by sediment in Roman times (as, indeed, the newly discovered block still was until very recently).(7)”

Baalbek @ Hugh Newman

Let us not exclude the Romans fully here because they did transport the 285-ton ‘Pompey’s Pillar’ from Aswan to Alexandria, over 600 miles, and carved and raised this gargantuan piece of red granite. They also achieved a similar feat at Baalbek, with the 65-foot-tall pillars that are now there, covering a relatively tiny area of the mega-platform. This was still an incredible achievement, one of many carried out  by the Romans. However impressive, it still does not get us much closer to the mystery of the 800-ton to 1650-ton blocks at Baalbek, and who in fact built it.

One clue is that Baalbek contains the name ‘Baal’ that generally means ‘Lord’ or ‘God’, and to the Phoenicians it meant ‘Sun’. The site sits upon a ‘tel’ or occupational mound 1150m above sea level, and has been inhabited since the Early Bronze Age (2900 – 2300 BC) with continuous occupation.  Also in the Bible, Baalbek appears under the name Baalath, a town re-fortified by Israel’s King Solomon, c. 970 BC, confirming both its sanctity to Baal at this early date, and its apparent strategic importance on the road to Damascus (8).

Megalithomania series on Baalbek: Part 3

Similar question marks hangs over at the 570 ton blocks that make up the Western Wall at the supposed location of Solomons Temple in Jerusalem, Israel. Its staggering size, combined with its potential age, have been compared in size to Baalbek, and in style to Egypt. “The massiveness of the work is on par with the Egyptian pyramid-Kings; and the perfection of the cutting and fitting of the stones is nearly equal” (9). Further connections to Egypt have also been noted.

It is known that the Romans called Baalbek Heliopolis, which was the name given to the temple by the Ptolemaic Kings of Egypt around 250 BC, meaning ‘City of the Sun’. Some of the megaliths on the Giza plateau in the Valley Temple and Sphinx Temple; and at the Osirion at Abydos, have a similar style and are incredibly large, and the precision work on them is remarkable, but the size of them still does get anywhere near the Baalbek stones. The famous boats found buried on the Giza Plateau, are made from Cedar Wood, most likely sourced from the hills of Baalbek. Andrew Collins discovered further ancient connections, including the story of Isis and Osiris and his floating coffin reaching Byblos in Lebanon. He also noted a prehistoric connection between the Isis-Osiris story in the mountains north west of Baalbek. In the fifth-century an obscure story relates that a `statue’ was carried ritually from Heliopolis in Egypt to its Lebanese name-sake by Egyptian priests (10). Most notably, there was also a strong tradition, recounted by Macrobius and others, that the Egyptian priests actually erected a temple at Baalbek dedicated to the worship of the sun. If they could build the pyramids, the Osirion and the Valley Temple, why not Baalbek?

Baalbek @ Hugh Newman

Baalbek also sits 5 degrees east of Giza, and 4 degrees north, suggesting it may have been a major marker on an ancient survey of the Earth, with the axis-mundi at the Great Pyramid, that also revealed an interesting anomaly that was spotted by Alex Whitaker: “This very specific separation of both longitudes and latitudes between the two sites has a secondary significance in that the angle created is 51° 51′, which is the same angle as that of the exterior faces of the great pyramid at Giza” (11).

Furthermore, Sanchoniatho, a Phoenician historian born either in Berytus (Beirut) or Tyre on the Lebanese coast just before the Trojan war, c. 1200 BC, chronicled what he found in the archives and temple records. Gods, demi-gods, and creator deities such as Thoth and Cronus get a mention, suggesting the founding of Egypt could have been from one of these ‘gods’ from Byblos, the capital of ancient Lebanon. According to Estfan Doweihi, the Maronite Patriarch of Lebanon: “Tradition states that the fortress of Baalbek… is the most ancient building in the world. Cain, the son of Adam, built it in the year 133 of the creation, during a fit of raving madness. He gave it the name of his son Enoch and peopled it with giants who were punished for their iniquities by the flood” (12). It certainly does appear to have been built by giants, when trying to work out how some of these stones could have been moved in to place.

Sanchoniatho’s writings also gives some support to the local folklore that giants may have built it. The `auxiliaries’ or `allies’ of Cronus, presumably in battle, were the `Eloeim’ a misspelling of the term Elohim, the sons of whom (the bene ha-elohim) were said to have been a divine race that came unto the daughters of men who subsequently gave birth to giant offspring known as the Nephilim, or so records to the Book of Genesis and various non-canonical works of Judaic origin.

Megalithomania series on Baalbek: Part 4

In Greek mythology the Nephilim are equated directly with the Titans and gigantes, or `giants’, who waged war on the gods of Olympus. In many ancient writings preserved during the early Christian era, stories concerning the Nephilim, or gibborim,`mighty men’, of biblical tradition are confused with the legends surrounding the Titans and gigantes. All blend together as one, and not perhaps without reason. The giants and Titans are said to have helped Nimrod, the `mighty hunter’ construct the fabled Tower of Babel which reached towards heaven. On its destruction by God, legends speak of how the giant races were dispersed across the bible landsLocal tradition even asserts that the Tower of Babel was actually located at Baalbek” (13).

The gargantuan monoliths of Baalbek certainly appear to be beyond the capabilities of humans, and whether it was giants, a lost technology, or the work of ancient gods, they retain remarkable secrets of engineering that has never been repeated, and that the stone masons took to their graves.

Baalbek @ Hugh Newman
Source: Hugh Newman

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