Mysteries of the World: 7 myths about Baalbeck

I am neither a scientist, nor an archeologist but I am a writer who happens to love great storytelling and well constructed narratives. My recent favorite one is about Baalbeck.

Truth to be told, just when I thought that I had figured out everything concerning the history of Lebanon ( I’ve even made an whimsical movie scenario about it in a previous post)….I was wrong. There was much more to that history in one city alone, Baalbeck.

Situated on the junction of the roads that connect Beirut from the West and Damascus from the East with Hamath in the North, Baalbek is a mysterious ancient city, used for thousands of years by many different civilizations. The Phoenicians, the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans all of them used it and all of them worshiped Baal.

Baal temple
The Magnificient Baachus temple!

“In about 2000 BC,  Baalbek was inhabited by the Canaanites, also called Phoenicians by the Greeks, who constructed the first altar and courtyard dedicated to Baal. Baal was the God of the rain, thunder, fertility and agriculture. He was the God of the valley of Bekaa, which is today still a major agriculture source.

The Canaanites believed that they could control Baal’s rain by performing rituals such as temple prostitution, cannibalism, ritual homosexuality, orgies, drunkenness, and sacred games. They also allegedly sacrificed children in an attempt to ensure good crops and favors granted.  They thought that these rituals could arouse Baal to bring rain to the valley of Bekaa and make it fertile.

In 334 BC, Alexander The Great conquered Baalbek and the process of Hellenization began. After the death of Alexander the Great, the Ptolemies of Egypt invaded Baalbek and they renamed it to Heliopolis, the City of the Sun. They identified Baal with Zeus and the temple was mentioned as a place of oracular divination. During the Greek era, the court was enlarged and a podium was completed to support a classic temple that was never built.”(You can read more here )

“During the Roman era, Baalbek entered its golden age. In 38 BCE, Marc Antony awarded Chalkis and the sanctuary to the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, making it a Ptolemaic possession again. Not for long, however. Civil war broke out in the Roman Empire, general Octavian was victorious, and annexed Cleopatra’s possessions”.  (http://www.livius.org/articles/place/heliopolis-baalbek/)

“In 15 BC, Julius Caesar settled in Baalbek and began the construction of a temple complex consisting of three temples: Jupiter (God of sky and thunder), Bacchus (God of agriculture and wine), and Venus (God of love and beauty). On a nearby hill, the Romans built the temple of Mercury. The construction of the temple complex was completed in several phases over three centuries during the Roman Empire. (You can read more here ) “

As you can read above, Alexander the Great, Cleopatra  and Julius Caesar, three of the greatest figures of the widely known ancient civilisations (the Greeks, the Pharaohs and the Romans) passed through Baalbek and even built it. Heliopolis (Baalbeck as called in the Roman times) was one the largest of sanctuaries in the Roman Empire. Yet, none of those facts are the most appealing part of that ancient city.****shocking****

The temple of Jupiter
The remaining of the temple of Jupiter

I must confess, although I am Lebanese myself I was clueless on how enigmatic Baalbek was. I always thought of it as just a beautiful Greek/Roman city until Erwin started telling me about this new book he was reading “Magicians of the Gods”( Graham Hancock’s), which contained new evidence and travels to the world’s most mysterious archaeological sites such as Baalbeck.

“The evidence revealed in this book shows beyond reasonable doubt that an advanced civilization that flourished during the Ice Age was destroyed in the global cataclysms between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago. But there were survivors – known to later cultures by names such as ‘the Sages’, ‘the Magicians’, ‘the Shining Ones’, and ‘the Mystery Teachers of Heaven’. They travelled the world in their great ships doing all in their power to keep the spark of civilization burning. They settled at key locations – Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, Baalbek in the Lebanon, Giza in Egypt, ancient Sumer, Mexico, Peru and across the Pacific where a huge pyramid has recently been discovered in Indonesia. Everywhere they went these ‘Magicians of the Gods’ brought with them the memory of a time when mankind had fallen out of harmony with the universe and paid a heavy price“. 

While I was pretty aware of Giza, Mexico and Peru, I was clueless about Baalbeck.  I started my research and became hooked when I learned that the massive foundation stones beneath the Roman Temple of Jupiter are the great mystery of the ruins of Baalbek.

The foundation of the jupiter temple
The view from the Baal temple to the temple of Jupiter

In fact, nothing puzzles archaeologists so much as impracticality: although the karst topography of Baalbek demands strong foundation stones and one big stone is easier to move than many smaller stones, the pillars holding up the temple’s podium are bigger than they need to be. Apparently the stones at the foundations of Baalbeck are some of the largest and heaviest “man made “stones that have ever been used in human constructions on the planet.
In other words, the Baalbeck enigma had nothing to do with the estetics of these foundation stones-there  were other massive stones found a kilometer away from the ruins area. The big mystery had everything to do with their weight (>1200 tones).

Biggest man made stone
The pregnant stone

How can one not sit in bewilderment wondering what on earth could any civilization have needed massive stone blocks weighing approximately 1,500 tons and a size of 68x14x14 feet for? They are without a doubt, the largest building blocks that have ever existed in the whole world. Our own science and engineering TODAY cannot explain them, let alone what their function was. Though it defies all logic on how it was done, some unknown culture moved these great stones, placed them on top of others, in perfect fit and alignment, before the dawn of even our most ancient of cultures… before man had even discovered the wheel

The questions which intrigued the whole world for many centuries were the following: how were they moved? Who built them? Why were they built?

“There were many stone movers in the ancient world. From Stonehenge to Machu Picchu, ancient peoples found a way to move stones of massive proportions. The Olmec of Central America moved enormous stone heads, possibly by floating them down rivers on rafts. The Inca created mountaintop kingdoms out of enormous yet intricately fitted stones, each dragged for dozens of miles. Easter Islanders carved and moved some of the largest stone sculptures ever created.

The largest hewn stone yet discovered, however, was not found in any of these places, but in the Lebanese town of Baalbek, in the ruins of a city once known as Heliopolis, “the City of the Sun.”

While Baalbek is known to have been settled from at least 7,000 BC, with almost continual inhabitants, some researchers, such as Graham Hancock, argue that its roots go back as many as 12,000 years.

Temple of Jupiter
Heliopolis, city of the Sun

I’m not persuaded by the archaeological case that the megalithic foundations of the Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek, Lebanon, were the work of the Romans. There’s no doubt that the Romans could move very large blocks of stone, and there’s no doubt that they were responsible for the classical majesty of the temple itself, but I’m presently working on the assumption that they built it on top of a megalithic platform that had already been in place for thousands of years…

….The Romans were practical people who would not allow work that they had already so painstakingly done to go to waste. Rather than opening up fresh quarry faces, wouldn’t they have used those massive, already almost completely quarried 1,000-ton-plus blocks and simply sliced them up into smaller more moveable megaliths for the construction of the rest of the temple?

It’s really puzzling that they didn’t do so and therefore the fact that these gigantic, almost finished blocks remain in the quarry and were never sliced up into smaller blocks and used in the general construction of the Temple of Jupiter, suggests to me very strongly that the Romans did not even know they were there. Most probably they had been buried under many metres of sediment for many thousands of years when the Romans appeared on the scene. They made use of the megaliths that were already in place on the already remotely ancient sacred site that would become the Temple of Jupiter — a handy, massive and convenient platform upon which they could build their temple — but they knew nothing of the fully cut and shaped but unused megaliths lying deeply buried in the quarry. Graham Hancock  

Why the site was so important to many civilizations is unknown. What is known for sure is that the initial site wasn’t constructed by Romans and before the Romans there was no known civilization that would have the technology to build such a massive monument!

Testimony to Baalbek flummoxing properties can be found in the 1860 diary of the Scottish traveller David Urquhart, whose mental capacities were “paralyzed” by “the impossibility of any solution.” Urquhart devotes several pages 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.” What, for example, was the point of cutting such enormous rocks? And why do it out there in the middle of nowhere, instead of in a capital or a port? Why were there no other sites that looked like Baalbek? And why had the work been abandoned midway? Urquhart concludes that the temple must have been built by contemporaries of Noah, using the same technological prowess that enabled the construction of the ark. Work was halted because of the flood, which swept away all the similar sites, leaving the enigma of Baalbek alone on the face of the earth.

Maybe just maybe it makes more sense to believe that somehow they’ve had the technology to do it (advanced civilisations?!?) or somehow the God Baal is related to that or even better it was built by giants, fallen angels or aliens?!?!?

I’m sorry, but nothing, and I mean nothing, is going to convince me that before man had something as basic as the wheel, he somehow figured out how to move 1,500 ton blocks. So, that begs the question, if it wasn’t man, who was it? You don’t have many choices to pick from.

The cynics have not provided sufficient answers to debunk even these theories. The possibility of “advanced civilizations” being responsible for it as they are mentioned in myths and legends seems closer to reality.

Now let’s explore some of those myths together :

1- The God Baal used the platform “to land” and “take of” 

Baalbek was an ancient Phoenician city that was named after the sky God Baal. The name ‘Baal’ in the Phoenician language meant ‘lord’ or ‘god’. Legends abound around Baalbek with some of them mentioning that Baalbek was the place where Baal first arrived on Earth and thus ancient alien theorists suggest that the initial building was probably built as a platform to be used for sky God Baal to ‘land’ and ‘take off’.

2-God banished Cain to Baalbek 

Tradition states that the fortress of Baalbek is the most ancient building in the world. Cain, the son of Adam, whom God banished to the `land of Nod’ that lay `east of Eden’ for murdering his good brother Abel, 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.

3- Baalbek was built by giants under the command of Nimrod 

The myth says that Baalbek once belonged to the legendary Nimrod, who ruled this area of Lebanon. According to an Arabic manuscript, Nimrod sent giants to rebuild Baalbek after the Flood.

4-The Tower of Babel was built in Baalbek 

Another legend states that Nimrod rebelled against Yahweh and built the Tower of Babel here, in order to ascend to Heaven and attack his God.

5-Alien (Planet of Nibiru) landing platform  

In modern times, new legends have been attached to the site, probably the most notable one is due to one person  Zecharia Sitchin. Starting in the 1970s, Sitchin made all sorts of claims about Sumerian culture and their contact with aliens from the planet Nibiru. What Sitchin believed was that the site, especially the trilithon stones, acted as the landing pad for extraterrestrial spacecraft, probably shuttles coming from their mother ship.

6 The evil spirits built Baalbek for king Solomon

The Djenoun (evil spirits) according to Arab tradition built Baalbek for Solomon were apparently the tribesmen of Dan.

                                               7-The Landing place:

Baalbeck has been known as the “landing place” since Sumerian times. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh claims to have “seen aliens descend and ascend from Baalbeck-the landing place”

In ancient times were built the most enigmatic constructions which to date are still a mystery. You can add Baalbeck to the collection of unanswered enigmas such as the Giza and the Americas pyramids.

Personally, I believe that the enigma of Baalbeck was answered in the Myths… all 7 of them. If they were more, I would believe in them too.

John Lennon once said:

“I believe in everything until it’s disproved.
So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind.  Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?”

Now whether you believe these myths were true or not is clearly up to you. All I can ask of you is to visit this wonder of the ancient world. Believe this at least: you will be transported to a realmth beyond your wildest imagination…that I can promise you!