"The Romans did not start from scratch. Archaeologists have discovered pre-Hellenistic remains of a sanctuary on the site, where Baal and the other Canaanite deities were worshipped. It centered around a natural crevice, which was probably the original sacred site before anything was built. Both the Ptolemies and the Seleucids added Hellenistic elements to the existing sanctuary. "
Originally posted by chapter29
If this really was completed by humans, I'm really impressed...
Still many other, even more wondrous things were achieved in times long past. In eastern Lebanon lies a city called Baalbeck that can truly lay claim to some of the most spectacular ruins on earth: The ruins of the Temple of Jupiter (fig.29). Now in attempting to identify the true origin of the constructions at Baalbeck we are told by Academics that in 27 BC, the Roman emperor Augustus supposedly came to the rather unfathomable decision to build what is absolutely and irrefutably the grandest, mightiest and most lavish temple built in of all antiquity and to do so in what is quite literally, the middle of nowhere.
The ruins at Baalbeck are absolutely massive with its huge courtyard constructed on a wide platform that is still retained by three huge walls. These retaining walls contain twenty-seven limestone blocks, larger in size than those that can be found anywhere else in the world. Each of the blocks in these walls weighs in excess of 300 metric tons, however there are three blocks in the wall that, weigh in at over 800 tons each.
This trio of blocks has gained world-renowned and are collectively known as the "Trilithon" (fig.30}. The Temple of Jupiter really is one of the most impressive ancient Temples in the world. It measures 88x48 meters and stands on a platform or podium reached via a wide stairway that can also only be described as truly monumental. The actual Podium rises a full 13 meters above the surrounding terrain (fig.31).The Trillithon in the retaining walls are three of the four largest stone blocks ever hewn.
Now if we really think about all this and consider events within the officially accepted academic framework that we are given of history, the site chosen for the Temple of Jupiter makes no real sense at all and we can find no apparent or obvious rhyme or reasons Augustus may have had for selecting the site at Baalbeck for such an elaborate temple.
In Roman times, Baalbek was (apparently) just a small city on a trading route to Damascus. It held no special religious or cultural significance for Rome, other than being in the centre of a coveted burial region that was favored by local tribes.
It also seems completely out of character for the undeniably selfish Rome to have gone to all the trouble of creating such lavish and extravagant architecture in Lebanon - and at a place like Baalbek that is located so far from Rome. The Romans were, after all, an enormously and undeniably greedy empire and were in the very process of stealing historic treasures from other countries, such as the obelisks from Egypt, at the very same time the Temple of Jupiter was under construction.
It makes much more sense to surmise that Baalbek may have had something else the Romans wanted from the site. Possibly something no other place, not even Rome, could offer them. It could even be the reason why so many people wished to be buried there. But we are told by Academics that no, the temple is definitely and indisputably of Roman origin.
There are however, serious problems with this claim. Investigation into the blocks in the retaining wall of the Baalbek temple site very clearly shows them to be far more eroded than the bona fide Roman ruins of the Temple of Jupiter and the two other Roman temples that can also found on the site. Now since the stone of the retaining wall is of the same type as the Temple, it is reasonable and logical to assume that the heavily eroded blocks are naturally, much older.
It is then also logical to surmise that the Roman temple was in fact, an augmentation to a much older pre-existing platform and this of course would also help to explain why on earth such a remote site was chosen for the temple – because it offered Augustus a ready made, pre-existing platform on which to construct it. The issue really is quite simple and straight forward and it’s difficult to understand why the idea that construction of the platform and retaining wall could have taken place earlier than the Temple is scoffed at by the mainstream Archeological Community.
The substantial amount of erosion visible on the large blocks of the retaining wall quite adequately qualifies as material proof of their far greater age than the actual ruins of the Temple of Jupiter. It’s reasonably apparent that if quite substantial geological evidence significantly apposes the theory then the theory is obviously incorrect!
But there is a problem with this for academics, because this of course would have to mean that when the Romans had constructed the Temple of Jupiter, they had done so on a platform that had been previously constructed by a far more ancient party who at this stage remains unknown and they certainly don’t want to bring up that “Ancient Civilization” thing again.
A notable point in this issue is that the Roman Empire was well known to have been quite an egotistical regime and yet we find no claim to building the incredible retaining wall anywhere in Roman records. There still exists, actual texts that record Roman transport capabilities during the reign of many Roman Emperors, including Augustus. These records clearly show that the load limit for the transportation of big blocks elsewhere in the Roman empire at the time was just a little over 300 metric tons and that was achieved only with the greatest amount of difficulty.
The highly celebrated transportation of the 323 ton Laterano Obelisk to Rome, for example, was an enormously difficult and dangerous task that spanned the reign of three emperors. And yet we find that transportation of the massive 800 ton blocks at Baalbeck for the Temple of Jupiter is not mentioned in Roman records anywhere at all. This fact also raises immediate questions.
It is also very worth noting that by the reign of Augustus, the Romans also knew about, and very often used, concrete. The Coliseum still standing in Rome today is a good example of a classic Roman concrete structure. It has simply never been in Roman style to build with megalithic blocks. In fact such megalithic architecture appears no where else at all in the entire Roman Empire. It is also significant that Ptolemys conferred the title of Heliopolis upon Baalbek.
For him to have given the place that particular title, it stands to reason that Baalbeck had to have been an ancient holy place and must have already had some notable architecture or some significant connection to the other Heliopolis (Sun City), also part of Ptolemys' domain in Egypt. And there’s still a further clue: In 636 AD the Temple of Jupiter was taken over by the Arabs who turned it into a fortress, also doing some further construction of their own. This means that the blocks used in the Arab sections of Baalbeck were laid about 650 years after the blocks of the Roman Temple.
So consider this conundrum: If the large blocks of the retaining wall were Roman, then the newer Arab blocks would mark the erosion of the older Roman blocks as they were after the first six or seven-hundred years since they were laid. Right? So how then, can the erosion of the large blocks in the retaining wall be so much greater than the erosion of both the old blocks of the Roman Temple and the newer blocks of the Arab ruins, in the subsequent 1500 years since the Arab section was constructed?
According to local legend, Baalbek had supposedly been a religious centre devoted to Baal in Phoenician times and local Arab legends actually place the cyclopean blocks of the retaining wall back to the time of Cain and Abel. Other tales tell that the platform was built by the Gods of old. Near the southern entrance of Baalbeck is a quarry where the stones used in the temples and retaining walls were cut.
No traces of any ancient road can be found between the quarry and the Temple which also raises questions on how the enormous 800 ton quarried monoliths were ever even transported to the site. This lack of any road can only mean either one of two things: Either the blocks of the retaining wall were transported so far back in antiquity that all trace of the road has long since disappeared, or: a road was never required for the task of transporting them. In fact a road would have been of little use anyway due to the sheer weight of the blocks.
The foundations of any road strong enough to be used for such a task would have to have been truly immense and if such a road had ever existed some trace of it would undoubtedly still remain today. So how were they moved? Another huge stone block known as the "Stone of the Pregnant Woman" (fig.32) still now lies in the ancient quarry where it was cut in antiquity. It measures 21.5m x 4.8m x 4.2meters in size, weighs an estimated 1,000 tons and is the largest hewn stone to be found anywhere in the world.
There is no contractor or crane in the world that is capable of moving these hewn blocks from the quarry to the temple site. Such a task is still well beyond any of our current transportation capabilities.
Originally posted by Hanslune
Hey I have to disagree, I don't think they used those polyspastos types of cranes for pulling, good for lifting and most probably used to built the upper stories, not so good for dragging stuff. I go for a series of windlasses and complicated pulley mechanisms like what was later used for re-erecting the obelisks in Rome.
Wel respected French archaeologist Ernest Renan, who was allowed archaeological exploration of the site by the French army during the mid nineteenth century.
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 for this assertion was that, in the words of Ragette, he saw ’no inherent relation between the Roman temple and this work’
Also ,the French scholar,Louis Flicien de Saulcy, stayed at Baalbek from 16 to 18 March 1851 and became convinced that the podium walls were the ’remains of a pre-Roman temple’.
When the unfinished upper course of the Great Platform was
cleared of loose blocks and rubble, excavators found carved into its horizontal surface a drawing of the pediment (a triangular, gable-like piece of architecture present in the Temple of Jupiter). So exact was this design that it seemed certain the architects and masons had positioned their blocks using this scale plan.(28) This meant that the Great Platform must have existed before the construction of the temple.
It could be argued that the column drum was used as ballast to strengthen the foundations of the much earlier podium wall, and until further knowledge of exactly where this cylindrical block was found then the matter cannot be resolved either way.
What possible motive could there have been for the Romans to drag three shapeless stone blocks, weighing 800-tons each, and place them into the wall of a structure in a remote region of the Roman empire?
Here is a possible scenario. Let us imagine that the distant Roman empire wished to stamp its authority on one of the most sacred sites of the Near East.
Let's say an instruction was issued from the central bureaucracy to erect the world's largest temple. An over-zealous Roman governor at Baalbek then conceived a temple plan on an unimaginable scale and ordered the local people to comply. Thousands of workers were drafted in from all around the Bekaa Valley. Then, as the platform neared completion, even bigger stones were dragged to the site. The workers became exhausted, time and resources became a problem, and the megalithic layer was abandoned. A new official then arrived and blew the whistle, stopped the brutality and brought a sense of realism to the enterprise; the order was thus given for a massive down-grading of the yet-to-be-built temples.
This is a purely hypothetical and imaginative scenario, and there is a problem with it, because there is no historical evidence for it.
Where, for example, is the record of a megalomaniac Roman governor at Baalbek?
Surely such a man would have been notorious for one of the greatest acts of folly ever witnessed?
And yet we find no recollection of this mad dictator among the Romans and no recollection where we would most expect to find it - in the legends of the local people...
What we do find in fact is that the local inhabitants of the Beqa’a Valley - who consist in the main of Arab Muslims, Maronite Christians and Orthodox Christians - do preserve legends about the origins of the Great Platform, but they do not involve the Romans.
Originally posted by Hanslune
Ah Baalbek yet again
The stone are large because the Romans were building a traditional temple and the site selected was on a slope. The one wall is on the down hill side. Ever wondered why there is only ONE side with big stones?
The Trilithon is composed of three stones each measuring 19 metres long x 4.2 metres wide x 3.6 metres broad. Hewn from natural crystalline limestone with a specific gravity of about 2.7, from a quarry 1 km mile away, they weigh 870 tons each.
French archaeologist Louis Felicien Joseph Caignart de Saulcy excavated at Baalbek and Jerusalem in the mid-19th century. He is best (or perhaps worst) known for some very bad interpretations of what he found, including associating the Tomb of the Kings in Jerusalem with the Jewish King David, and some weird arguments about Baalbek having been built before the Romans, later used by folks like Erich von Daniken to argue for the construction of the site by aliens or god-like beings or some such rubbish.
There is no answer to this question until all the evidence has been presented in respect to the construction of the Great Platform, and it is in this area that we find some very contradictory evidence indeed. For example, when the unfinished upper course of the Great Platform was cleared of loose blocks and rubble, excavators found carved into its horizontal surface a drawing of the pediment (a triangular, gable-like piece of architecture present in the Temple of Jupiter). So exact was this design that it seemed certain the architects and masons had positioned their blocks using this scale plan.(28) This meant that the Great Platform must have existed before the construction of the temple.
This meant that the Great Platform must have existed before the construction of the temple
What we do find in fact is that the local inhabitants of the Beqa’a Valley - who consist in the main of Arab Muslims, Maronite Christians and Orthodox Christians - do preserve legends about the origins of the Great Platform, but they do not involve the Romans
At the southern entrance of the town is a quarry
where the stones used in the Roman temples
were cut. A huge block, considered the largest
hewn stone in the world, still sits where it was cut
almost 2,000 years ago. Called the “Stone of the
Pregnant Woman,” it is 21.5m x 4.8m x 4.2m in
size and weighs an estimated 1,000 tons. There
is another quarry at Al-Kiyyal, southwest of town,
beyond Qubbat Douris.
Preliminary results of the documentation of building history and geodesy led to a new hypothesis concerning the chronological sequence of the construction of the temples and their interrelationship.
In the Hellenistic period the former comparatively small tell, on which there was probably already a temple building, was completely covered by the construction of the first large sanctuary. The town might have had to move to the foot of the tell. At this early stage a road axis might have been created, which led across the settlement to another important religious building in the quarter of Haret Beit Sulh.
There, a larger than life-size statue of Venus was found in the 19th century, which has led to the assumption that in this area a sanctuary of Venus might have been located. The temple of Jupiter as well as the so-called temple of the Muses were axially oriented towards this hypothetical temple. This held true for the later monumental temple of Jupiter in Roman times.
Later, during the 2nd century AD the temple of Bacchus was built, and the dilapidated temple of the Muses hidden by a porticus. The temple of Mercury was constructed on Sheikh Abdallah hill and the city expanded to the south-west in the area of the Bustan el Khan. Only in the 3rd century AD the so-called temple of Venus, the popular name of which is certainly wrong, was built as replacement of the older so-called temple of the Muses and oriented towards the sanctuary of Jupiter.
Remodeling measures inside the sanctuary of Jupiter represent the last building activities that took place in Roman times. In the early Christian period the area of the so-called temple of Venus was transformed into a Christian church complex, and in the 5th century AD the large basilica was built in the Great Courtyard of the sanctuary of Jupiter.
Finally, in the 12th/13th centuries AD the religious function of this complex was abandoned, as the remains of the sanctuary of Jupiter were transformed into a defensive fortress, which offered enough room for the lavishly furnished palace of the governor. At the same time the town of Baalbek around the fortress seems to have expanded for the first time outside the boundaries of the ancient city wall. In the Bustan el Khan outside of the medieval city wall new building activities, namely of private dwellings and baths, take place.