WHO QUARRIED BAALBEK’S MEGALITHS?
BY SUHAIL JALBOUT
BY SUHAIL JALBOUT
Baalbek’s history goes back to the first millennium BCE when the Phoenicians built an alter and a courtyard in the Bekaa Valley dedicated to their god Baal giving Baalbek its name. This valley lies between the two Lebanese mount ranges and was a strategic trading route. When the Greeks occupied the region in 332 BCE, they enlarged the existing temple and added to it. In 47 BCE the Romans conquered Phoenicia. During their time, the Valley served as a source of grain for the Roman provinces of the Levant. When Julius Caesar settled in Baalbek in 15 BCE, he used the existing temple as a base upon and around which he started the construction of three temples for each of Bacchus, Jupiter, and Venus. Today this temple of Bacchus is considered the grandest and best-preserved of all the Roman temple ruins.
The temple of Jupiter is built on top of a podium which contains three of the largest stones ever hewed by man, known as “Trilithon”. The weight of each trilithon is 800 tons. Their quarry is located 800 meters southeast of the temple on the slope of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. It seems that not all the stones quarried were used. One such humungous megalith was left above ground at the quarry. Recently, two similar stones were discovered buried underground. I shall detail the weights of these stones below.1
MEGALITHS IN THE QUARRY
- The first megalith, known as the “Pregnant Woman,” is located above ground. It weighs about 1,000 tons.
- The second megalith was discovered underground in 1990 and weighs 1,242 tons.
- The third megalith was also discovered underground in 2014 and weighs 1,650 tons. Its average dimensions are 19.6m in L x 6m in W x 5.5m in H. It is the largest ever man-cut block.
- All the majestic ruins of the Romans do not have massive megaliths. We can equally observe that neither did the Phoenicians or the Greeks. The size of the stones they quarried and used in other locations are much smaller than the ones found in Baalbek. For example, only few individual stones used in the ancient Roman Pont du Gard aqueduct in France that supplies 40,000 cubic meters of water per day are 6 tons.
- It is obvious that the structure of the great megalithic podium has a different pattern of construction from the Roman temple built above it.
- The podium megalith stones are weathered more than the stones in the temple of Jupiter. This can only mean that the megaliths are older.
- The many fabulous Roman ruins are evidence to the ancient Roman’s expertise in design, architecture, civil engineering, and planning. So, one wonders as to why would they invest in time, manpower and money to quarry such huge megaliths and not use them. Leaving three megaliths in the quarry (there may be more yet undiscovered) does not reflect the Roman professionalism. This leads me to conclude that they were not the ones who quarried the megaliths. They may not even have known of their existence.
If the Romans did not quarry the megaliths, who did?
There is evidence that the Bekaa Valley was inhabited by an ancient civilization as early as 9,000 BCE. I tend to believe that these people, who existed in the Valley around 10,000 BCE or earlier, quarried the six megalith stones to build a temple on some high ground in the area now known as Baalbek. They may have transported three stones to use in the podium construction and before they had a chance to transport the other three, a universal cataclysm occurred on our planet. As a result, the civilization was wiped out, the temple stood unfinished, and the quarry was covered with debris. The situation remained unchanged until the Phoenicians came to the Valley, discovered the unfinished podium, and decided to build their temple as discussed above.
Is there any evidence for such a civilization to have settled in the Beqaa Valley? To answer this question, we need to investigate the archaeological site Gobekli Tepe.2
In 1996 the world’s oldest temple was discovered in Gobekli Tepe in the southeastern Anatolia region of Turkey some 500 km north of Baalbek. The site is a Tell 15 meters high. It was constructed around 10,000 BCE or earlier. T shaped stone pillars were made in a nearby quarry, transported to the site, and then lifted to their place in the temple. The pillars were arranged to form many circles. Two large pillars were placed in the middle of each circle. The pillars’ heights were up to 6 meters and weighted 10-20 tons each. One such pillar still in the quarry weighs 50 tons. As of May 2020, more than 200 pillars in about 20 circles were discovered and they are carved with animal shapes, mystic drawings, and abstract symbols. Researchers found that Gobekli Tepe was built according to a precise architectural plan. If one were to join the centers of three of the circles, the lines will form a nearly perfect equilateral triangle. The details of the structure’s function remain a mystery. The purpose of the site could be a temple for worshiping, a burial place, or an astronomical observation center. The T shaped stone pillars were also discovered in many nearby places to Gobekli Tepe, such as, in Hamazan Tepe, Karahan Tepe, Sefer Tepe, Tasli Tepe and Harbetsuvan Tepe.
These ancient people, who constructed the circles, must have been hunter gatherers. Most probably they used to follow their game from place to place. Lebanon is the bottle neck for migrating birds between Europe and Africa3. These hunters must have followed the flying route of migratory birds to the Bekaa Valley where they established a settlement. The area is protected by mountains from the east and the west, has rivers, game, fertile land, and even wild wheat.
Large animals were domesticated for plowing and transportation, known as “beasts of burden”, between 4,000 and 3,000 BCE. Hence, it is reasonable to assume that because they had no means of transportation, they developed strong body mussels especially in their legs and arms. This means that their walking endurance and speed is equivalent to present time Olympic athletes. The average speed of a race-walker today is about 12.5 km/hr. If we assume that their walking speed was 10 km/hr. and they walk only 10 hours per day, then we can conclude that it will take them about 5 days to cover the 500 km distance between Gobekli Tepe and Baalbek. Therefore, the probability that these people reached the Bekaa Valley and settled in it around 10,000 BCE or earlier is extremely high. Having settled in the Valley, they would have wanted to build their circular temple. Hence, it is possible that they were the ones that excavated the quarry with the huge megalithic stones to build a podium, to elevate their temple, and then build their temple on top. They waited for the winter season, when the ground was frozen, and then they drag each megalith of the trilithon on the frozen ground, using a sledge, from the quarry to the podium. However, they were unable to complete their temple due to the universal cataclysm that destroyed them.
THE UNIVERSAL CATCLYSM
How likely it is that such a cataclysm did happen on earth around 9,000 BCE? Below is a list of references supporting this hypothesis:
1. “In 1975, C. Mililani, of the University of Miami, analyzed the fossil remnants of microscopic organisms under the sediments of the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. From his studies, he concluded that 11,000 years ago [9,000 BCE] the Gulf of Mexico contained water that was much less salty than it is today. He suggests that the ice sheet has undergone sudden melting and that a vast flood of water had entered the Gulf of Mexico and raised the sea level markedly”.4
2. Professor J. Shaw, of Queen’s University, Canada, estimated that 82,000 cubic kilometers of water may have poured out from the ice to form the Drumlin Field in Saskatchewan, Canada. The largest river in the world, the Amazon, takes 10 years to discharge the same amount of water into the Atlantic Ocean. The estimated date for this flood is between 10,000 and 9,000 BCE.5
3. The Columbia Basin, in USA, was probably the scene of the greatest stream of water for which there is geological evidence. One reference dates the flood to between 13,000 and 10,000 BCE, another dates it to between 11,000 and 9,000 BCE. Water spread from the Spokane valley over to the Columbian Basin that has a size larger than France, Switzerland, and Belgium put together. The maximum flow rate of the water is estimated at 62 cubic kilometers per hour, a rate that is 15 times the combined flow rate of all the rivers of the world.6
4. A wall of water, 500 meters high, surged down the Chua River Valley from the Altai Mountains in Siberia at 144 km per hour. The estimated date of this flood is between 12,000 and 10,000 BCE.7
5. In 10,000 BCE, the size of the Nile River was 1,000 folds more than at the present time.8
6. Between 10,000 and 9,000 BCE, the Gulf Stream stopped its flow in the Atlantic Ocean abruptly. As a result, Britain and Europe froze for 1,300 years and icebergs appeared as far as Portugal.9
7. About 9,000 BCE, there were severe changes in the large mammal population in many parts of the world. In North America, 8 large mammal species became extinct including mastodons and mammoth.10
8. In Alaska, millions of frozen animals and trees were found mingled together in what could only be attributed to a terrible catastrophe. Millions of animals, such as mammoth, mastodon, and bison were found ‘torn limb from limb’. Trees were uprooted and thrown with animals in a haphazard fashion. Frank Hibbing, a professor of archaeology, visited Alaska in 1941. He wrote: “In many places the Alaskan muck blanket is packed with animal bones and debris in trainload lots.… Within this mass, frozen solid lie the twisted parts of animals and trees intermingled with lenses of ice and layers of peat and mosses. It looks as though in the middle of some cataclysmic catastrophe the whole Alaskan world of living animals and plants was suddenly frozen in mid-motion in grim charade.” The estimated date of the catastrophe is between 11,000 and 9,000 BCE.11
9. Evidence of the worldwide destruction of mammals is found in the Siwalik Hills, foothills of the Himalayas, central Burma, Europe, Asia, and Siberia. The estimated remains of extinct animals along the rivers of northern Siberia are 10 million. N.K. Vereshchagin of the Zoology Institute in Leningrad estimates that the arctic coastal plain between Yana and Koyma alone contains at least half a million tons of mammoth tusks. The estimated date for the disappearance of the mammoth is between 11,000 and 9,000 BCE.12
10. The islands of Leakhov, Stolbovoin, Belkov, and the New Siberean Island are packed with mammoth bones. Some skeletons and carcasses were found complete, but the majority was torn about by a gigantic force. Microscopic studies of the skin revealed red blood corpuscles, a sign of sudden death by suffocation. Also, the explorers of the New Siberian Island found some trees uprooted and others partly up right and buried in the frozen soil. They believe a forest existed on the Island before it was suddenly devastated between 10,000-9,000 BCE.13
11. According to Solon, the Egyptian priest informed him that the continent of Atlantis vanished under the sea around 9,500 BCE.14
12. Spartel Island, an island close to the Strait of Gibraltar, vanished under the sea around 9,000 BCE.15
13. According to geological evidence, a cataclysm occurred on Earth between 10,000-9,000 BCE. It brought about the end of one geological era (Pleistocene) and ushered in a new one (Holocene).16
14. The Sahara Desert in Africa was the home of a flourishing civilization. It had jungles, rivers, and possibly a lake. The change in its appearance was brought about by an acute change in temperature and climatic conditions. It is believed that around 9,000 BCE, a cataclysm occurred on Earth causing the Sahara to convert from an inhabited land into a desert. In 1994, when the space shuttle Endeavour took a radar scan of the Sahara, it revealed an ancient river channel buried under the surface of the desert.17
I hope the data presented in my hypothesis will enthuse researchers, archeologists, and PhD students to conduct further study and research.
Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple? or Göbekli Tepe - Wikipedia
A312-frozenMammoths.txt >. <Woolly Mammoths: Evidence of Catastrophe?>.
14 Luce 1969: 209. Luce, J.V.The End of Atlantis. London: Thames & Hudson, 1969.
16 < http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/