Baalbek

Baalbek

Overview


Baalbek is a town in the Beqaa Valley
Beqaa Valley
The Beqaa Valley is a fertile valley in east Lebanon. For the Romans, the Beqaa Valley was a major agricultural source, and today it remains Lebanon’s most important farming region...

 of Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, altitude 1170 metres (3,838.6 ft), situated east of the Litani River
Litani River
The Litani River is an important water resource in southern Lebanon. The river rises in the fertile Beqaa Valley valley, west of Baalbek, and empties into the Mediterranean Sea north of Tyre. Exceeding 140 km in length, the Litani River is the longest river in Lebanon and provides an average...

. It is famous for its exquisitely detailed yet monumentally scaled temple ruins of the Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 period, when Baalbek, then known as Heliopolis, was one of the largest sanctuaries in the Empire. It is Lebanon's greatest Roman treasure, and it can be counted among the wonders of the ancient world
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

, containing some of the largest and best preserved Roman ruins.

Towering high above the Beqaa plain, their monumental proportions proclaimed the power and wealth of Imperial Rome.
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Baalbek is a town in the Beqaa Valley
Beqaa Valley
The Beqaa Valley is a fertile valley in east Lebanon. For the Romans, the Beqaa Valley was a major agricultural source, and today it remains Lebanon’s most important farming region...

 of Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, altitude 1170 metres (3,838.6 ft), situated east of the Litani River
Litani River
The Litani River is an important water resource in southern Lebanon. The river rises in the fertile Beqaa Valley valley, west of Baalbek, and empties into the Mediterranean Sea north of Tyre. Exceeding 140 km in length, the Litani River is the longest river in Lebanon and provides an average...

. It is famous for its exquisitely detailed yet monumentally scaled temple ruins of the Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 period, when Baalbek, then known as Heliopolis, was one of the largest sanctuaries in the Empire. It is Lebanon's greatest Roman treasure, and it can be counted among the wonders of the ancient world
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

, containing some of the largest and best preserved Roman ruins.

Towering high above the Beqaa plain, their monumental proportions proclaimed the power and wealth of Imperial Rome. The gods worshiped here, the triad of Jupiter
Jupiter (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter or Jove is the king of the gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. He is the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek pantheon....

, Venus
Venus
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

 and Bacchus
Bacchus
Bacchus is the Roman name for Dionysus, the god of wine and intoxication.Bacchus can also refer to:* Temple of Bacchus, a Roman temple at a large classical antiquity complex in Baalbek, Lebanon...

, were grafted onto the indigenous deities of Hadad
Hadad
Haddad was a northwest Semitic storm and rain god, cognate in name and origin with the Akkadian god Adad. Hadad was often called simply Ba‘al , but this title was also used for other gods. The bull was the symbolic animal of Hadad. He appeared as a bearded deity, often shown as holding a club and...

, Atargatis
Atargatis
Atargatis, in Aramaic ‘Atar‘atah, was a Syrian deity, " great goddess of northern Syria" ,"the great mistress of the North Syrian lands" Rostovtseff called her, commonly known to the ancient Greeks by a shortened form of the name, Aphrodite Derceto or Derketo and as Dea Syria, "Goddess of Syria"...

 and a young male god of fertility. Local influences are also seen in the planning and layout of the temples, which vary from the classic Roman design.

Baalbek is home to the annual Baalbeck International Festival
Baalbeck International Festival
The Baalbeck International Festival is the oldest and best-known cultural event in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean. Since 1955, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world have flocked to the city of Baalbek in the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon to attend the annual festival...

. The town is about 85 km (52.8 mi) northeast of Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

, and about 75 km (46.6 mi) north of Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

. It has a population of approximately 72,000.

Tell Baalbek


There has been much conjecture about earlier levels at Baalbeck with suggestions that it may have been an ancient settlement. The German expedition in 1898 reporting nothing prior to Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 occupation. Recent archaeological finds have however been discovered in the deep trench at the edge of the Jupiter temple platform during cleaning operations. These finds date the site, Tell Baalbek from the PPNB neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 to the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

. They include several sherd
Sherd
In archaeology, a sherd is commonly a historic or prehistoric fragment of pottery, although the term is occasionally used to refer to fragments of stone and glass vessels as well....

s of pottery
Pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

 including a teapot
Teapot
A teapot is a vessel used for steeping tea leaves or a herbal mix in near-boiling water. Tea may be either in a tea bag or loose, in which case a tea strainer will be needed, either to hold the leaves as they steep or to catch the leaves inside the teapot when the tea is poured...

 spout, evident to date back to the early bronze age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

. Previous excavations under the roman flagstones in the Great Court unearthed three skeletons and a fragment of Persian pottery
Iranian pottery
Iranian pottery or Persian pottery production presents a continuous history from the beginning of Iranian history until the present day....

 dated to around 550-330 BCE. The fragment featured cuneiform
Cuneiform
Cuneiform can refer to:*Cuneiform script, an ancient writing system originating in Mesopotamia in the 4th millennium BC*Cuneiform , three bones in the human foot*Cuneiform Records, a music record label...

 letters and images of figurines.

Prehistory


The history of settlement in the area of Baalbek dates back about 9000 years, with almost continual settlement of the tell under the Temple of Jupiter, which was probably a temple since the pre-Hellenistic era.

19th-century Bible archaeologists
Biblical archaeology
For the movement associated with William F. Albright and also known as biblical archaeology, see Biblical archaeology school. For the interpretation of biblical archaeology in relation to biblical historicity, see The Bible and history....

 wanted to connect Baalbek to the "Baalgad" mentioned in Joshua 11:17, but the assertion has seldom been taken up in modern times. In fact, this minor Phoenician city, named for the "Lord (Baal
Baal
Baʿal is a Northwest Semitic title and honorific meaning "master" or "lord" that is used for various gods who were patrons of cities in the Levant and Asia Minor, cognate to Akkadian Bēlu...

) of the Beqaa valley" lacked enough commercial or strategic importance to rate a mention in Assyrian or Egyptian records so far uncovered, according to Hélène Sader, professor of archaeology at the American University of Beirut
American University of Beirut
The American University of Beirut is a private, independent university in Beirut, Lebanon. It was founded as the Syrian Protestant College by American missionaries in 1866...

.

Heliopolis, the City of the Sun


After Alexander the Great conquered the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

 in 334 BCE, the existing settlement was named Heliopolis (Ἡλιούπολις) from helios, Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 for sun, and polis, Greek for city. The city retained its religious function during Greco-Roman times, when the sanctuary of the Heliopolitan Jupiter-Baal was a pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

 site. Trajan
Trajan
Trajan , was Roman Emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Born into a non-patrician family in the province of Hispania Baetica, in Spain Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in Spain, in 89 Trajan supported the emperor against...

's biographer records that the Emperor consulted the oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

 there. Trajan inquired of the Heliopolitan Jupiter whether he would return alive from his wars against the Parthians. In reply, the god presented him with a vine shoot cut into pieces. Macrobius, a Latin grammarian of the 5th century, mentioned Zeus Heliopolitanus and the temple, a place of oracular divination
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

. Starting in the last quarter of the 1st century BCE (reign of Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

) and over a period of two centuries (reign of Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab , also known as Philip or Philippus Arabs, was Roman Emperor from 244 to 249. He came from Syria, and rose to become a major figure in the Roman Empire. He achieved power after the death of Gordian III, quickly negotiating peace with the Sassanid Empire...

), the Romans had built a temple complex in Baalbek consisting of three temples: Jupiter, Bacchus and Venus. On a nearby hill, they built a fourth temple dedicated to Mercury.

The city, then known as Heliopolis (there was another Heliopolis
Heliopolis (ancient)
Heliopolis was one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt, the capital of the 13th Lower Egyptian nome that was located five miles east of the Nile to the north of the apex of the Nile Delta...

 in Egypt), was made a colonia by Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus , also known as Severus, was Roman Emperor from 193 to 211. Severus was born in Leptis Magna in the province of Africa. As a young man he advanced through the customary succession of offices under the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Severus seized power after the death of...

 in 193
193
Year 193 was a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Sosius and Ericius...

, having been part of the territory of Berytus on the Phoenician coast since 15 BCE. Work on the religious complex there lasted over a century and a half and was never completed. The dedication of the present temple ruins, the largest religious building in the entire Roman empire, dates from the reign of Septimus Severus (193-211 CE), whose coins first show the two temples. The great courts of approach were not finished before the reigns of Caracalla
Caracalla
Caracalla , was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. The eldest son of Septimius Severus, he ruled jointly with his younger brother Geta until he murdered the latter in 211...

 (211-217 CE) and Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab , also known as Philip or Philippus Arabs, was Roman Emperor from 244 to 249. He came from Syria, and rose to become a major figure in the Roman Empire. He achieved power after the death of Gordian III, quickly negotiating peace with the Sassanid Empire...

 (244-249 CE). In commemoration, no doubt, of the dedication of the new sanctuaries, Severus conferred the rights of the ius Italicum
Ius Italicum
Ius Italicum was an honour conferred on particular cities of the Roman Empire by the emperors. It did not describe any status of citizenship, but granted to communities outside Italy the legal fiction that it was on Italian soil...

on the city.

Today, only six Corinthian columns remain standing. Eight more were disassembled and shipped to Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 under Justinian's orders circa 532-537 CE, for his basilica of Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

.

The greatest of the three temples was sacred to Jupiter Baal, ("Heliopolitan Zeus"), identified here with the sun, and was constructed during the first century CE ( completed circa 60 CE ). At the time it was the largest temple in the empire. With it were associated a temple to Venus and a lesser temple in honor of Bacchus
Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

 (though it was traditionally referred to as the "Temple of the Sun" by Neoclassical visitors, who saw it as the best-preserved Roman temple
Roman temple
Ancient Roman temples are among the most visible archaeological remains of Roman culture, and are a significant source for Roman architecture. Their construction and maintenance was a major part of ancient Roman religion. The main room housed the cult image of the deity to whom the temple was...

 in the world – it is surrounded by forty-two columns nearly 20 meters in height). Thus three Eastern deities were worshipped in Roman guise: thundering Jove, the god of storms, stood in for Baal-Hadad
Hadad
Haddad was a northwest Semitic storm and rain god, cognate in name and origin with the Akkadian god Adad. Hadad was often called simply Ba‘al , but this title was also used for other gods. The bull was the symbolic animal of Hadad. He appeared as a bearded deity, often shown as holding a club and...

, Venus for ‘Ashtart (known in English as Astarte) and Bacchus for Anatolian Dionysus
Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

.

The original number of Jupiter columns was 54 columns. The architrave
Architrave
An architrave is the lintel or beam that rests on the capitals of the columns. It is an architectural element in Classical architecture.-Classical architecture:...

 and frieze
Frieze
thumb|267px|Frieze of the [[Tower of the Winds]], AthensIn architecture the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Even when neither columns nor pilasters are expressed, on an astylar wall it lies upon...

 blocks weigh up to 60 tons each, and one corner block over 100 tons, all of them raised to a height of ca. 19 m (62.34 ft) above the ground. This was thought to have been done using Roman cranes. Roman cranes were not capable of lifting stones this heavy; however, by combining multiple cranes they may have been able to lift them to this height. If necessary they may have used the cranes to lever one side up a little at a time and use shims to hold it while they did the other side.

The Roman construction was built on top of earlier ruins and involved the creation of an immense raised plaza onto which the actual buildings were placed. The sloping terrain necessitated the creation of retaining wall
Retaining wall
Retaining walls are built in order to hold back earth which would otherwise move downwards. Their purpose is to stabilize slopes and provide useful areas at different elevations, e.g...

s on the north, south and west sides of the plaza. These walls are built of about 24 monoliths at their lowest level each weighing approximately 300 tons. The western, tallest retaining wall has a second course of monoliths containg the famous trilithon
Trilithon
A trilithon is a structure consisting of two large vertical stones supporting a third stone set horizontally across the top . It is commonly used in the context of megalithic monuments...

: a row of three stones, each over 19 metres long, 4.3 metres high and 3.6 metres broad, cut from limestone. They can be calculated to weigh approximately 800 t each.

A fourth, still larger stone called Stone of the Pregnant Woman
Stone of the Pregnant Woman
The Stone of the Pregnant Woman or Stone of the South is a Roman monolith in Baalbek , Lebanon. Together with another ancient stone block nearby, it is among the very largest monoliths ever quarried by men...

lies unused in a nearby quarry about 1 mile from the town (see image below). – its weight, often exaggerated, is estimated at 1,000.12 t. An even larger stone, weighing approximately 1,242 t, lies in the same quarry across the road (see image below). Another of the Roman ruins, the Great Court, has six 20 m (65.62 ft) tall stone columns surviving, out of an original 128.

Jupiter-Baal was represented locally (on coinage) as a beardless god in long scaly drapery, holding a whip
Flagellum
A flagellum is a tail-like projection that protrudes from the cell body of certain prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, and plays the dual role of locomotion and sense organ, being sensitive to chemicals and temperatures outside the cell. There are some notable differences between prokaryotic and...

 in his right hand and thunderbolt
Thunderbolt
A thunderbolt is a discharge of lightning accompanied by a loud thunderclap or its symbolic representation. In its original usage the word may also have been a description of meteors, or, as Plato suggested in Timaeus, of the consequences of a close approach between two planetary cosmic bodies,...

s and ears of wheat in his left. Two bulls supported him. In this guise he passed into European worship in the 3rd century and 4th century. The icon of Helipolitan Zeus (in A.B. Cook, Zeus, i:570–576) bore busts of the seven planetary powers on the front of the pillarlike term
Term (architecture)
In Classical architecture a term or terminal figure is a human head and bust that continues as a square tapering pillarlike form. If the bust is of Hermes as protector of boundaries in ancient Greek culture, with male genitals interrupting the plain base at the appropriate height, it may be...

 in which he was encased. A bronze statuette of this Heliopolitan Zeus was discovered at Tortosa, Spain; another was found at Byblos
Byblos
Byblos is the Greek name of the Phoenician city Gebal . It is a Mediterranean city in the Mount Lebanon Governorate of present-day Lebanon under the current Arabic name of Jubayl and was also referred to as Gibelet during the Crusades...

 in Phoenicia. A comparable iconic image is the Lady of Ephesus
Temple of Artemis
The Temple of Artemis , also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to a goddess Greeks identified as Artemis and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was situated at Ephesus , and was completely rebuilt three times before its eventual destruction...

 (see illustration) (Robert Graves
Robert Graves
Robert von Ranke Graves 24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985 was an English poet, translator and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works...

, The Greek Myths I.4).

Other Emperors enriched the sanctuary of Heliopolitan Jupiter each in turn. Nero
Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

 (54–68 CE) built the tower-altar opposite the Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Jupiter
The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, also known as the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus was the most important temple in Ancient Rome, located on the Capitoline Hill.-First building:Much of what is known of the first Temple of Jupiter is from later Roman...

, Trajan
Trajan
Trajan , was Roman Emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Born into a non-patrician family in the province of Hispania Baetica, in Spain Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in Spain, in 89 Trajan supported the emperor against...

 (98-117) added the forecourt to the Temple of Jupiter, with porticos of pink granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 brought from Aswan
Aswan
Aswan , formerly spelled Assuan, is a city in the south of Egypt, the capital of the Aswan Governorate.It stands on the east bank of the Nile at the first cataract and is a busy market and tourist centre...

 in Egypt. Antoninus Pius
Antoninus Pius
Antoninus Pius , also known as Antoninus, was Roman Emperor from 138 to 161. He was a member of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty and the Aurelii. He did not possess the sobriquet "Pius" until after his accession to the throne...

 (138-161) built the Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus
The Temple of Bacchus was one of the three main temples at a large complex in Classical Antiquity, at Baalbek in Lebanon. The temple was dedicated to Bacchus , the Roman god of wine, but was traditionally referred to by Neoclassical visitors as the "Temple of the Sun". It is considered one of the...

, the best preserved of the sanctuary's structures, for it was protected by the very rubble of the site's ruins. It is enriched with refined reliefs and sculpture. Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus , also known as Severus, was Roman Emperor from 193 to 211. Severus was born in Leptis Magna in the province of Africa. As a young man he advanced through the customary succession of offices under the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Severus seized power after the death of...

 (193-211) added a pentagonal Temple of Venus, who as Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

 had enjoyed an early Syrian role with her consort Adonis
Adonis
Adonis , in Greek mythology, the god of beauty and desire, is a figure with Northwest Semitic antecedents, where he is a central figure in various mystery religions. The Greek , Adōnis is a variation of the Semitic word Adonai, "lord", which is also one of the names used to refer to God in the Old...

 ("Lord", the Aramaic translation of "Baal."). Emperor Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab , also known as Philip or Philippus Arabs, was Roman Emperor from 244 to 249. He came from Syria, and rose to become a major figure in the Roman Empire. He achieved power after the death of Gordian III, quickly negotiating peace with the Sassanid Empire...

 (244–249) was the last to add a monument at Heliopolis: the hexagonal forecourt. When he was finished Heliopolis and Praeneste in Italy were the two largest sanctuaries in the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

.

The extreme licence of the Heliopolitan worship of Aphrodite was often commented upon by early Christian writers, who competed with one another to execrate her worship. Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

, down the coast, averred that 'men and women vie with one another to honour their shameless goddess; husbands and fathers let their wives and daughters publicly prostitute themselves to please Astarte
Astarte
Astarte is the Greek name of a goddess known throughout the Eastern Mediterranean from the Bronze Age to Classical times...

'. Constantine, making an effort to curb the Venus cult, built a basilica
Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

 in Heliopolis. Theodosius I
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

 erected another, with a western apse, occupying the main court of the Jupiter temple, as was Christian practice everywhere. The vast stone blocks of its walls were taken from the temple itself. Today nothing of the Theodosian basilica remains.

Early Islamic period



In 637 CE, the Muslim army
Rashidun army
The Rashidun Caliphate Army or Rashidun army was the primary military body of the Rashidun Caliphate's armed forces during the Muslim conquests of the 7th century, serving alongside the Rashidun Navy...

 under Abu Ubaida ibn al-Jarrah captured Baalbek after defeating the Byzantine army
Byzantine army
The Byzantine army was the primary military body of the Byzantine armed forces, serving alongside the Byzantine navy. A direct descendant of the Roman army, the Byzantine army maintained a similar level of discipline, strategic prowess and organization...

 at Battle of Yarmouk
Battle of Yarmouk
The Battle of Yarmouk was a major battle between the Muslim Arab forces of the Rashidun Caliphate and the armies of the East Roman-Byzantine Empire. The battle consisted of a series of engagements that lasted for six days in August 636, near the Yarmouk River, along what is today the border...

. It was still an opulent city and yielded rich plunderings. It became a bone of contention between the various Syrian dynasties and the caliphs first of Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, then of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. The place was fortified and took on the name al-Qala‘ ("fortress"; see Alcala) but in 748 was sacked again with great slaughter. The Byzantine emperor John Tzimisces sacked the city in 975. In 1090 it passed to the Seljuks and in 1134 to Zengi
Zengi
Imad ad-Din Zengi was the atabeg of Mosul, Aleppo, Hama and Edessa and founder of the Zengid dynasty, to which he gave his name.-Early life:...

; but after 1145 it remained attached to Damascus and was captured by Saladin
Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

 in 1175. The Crusaders raided its valley more than once, but never took the city. Three times shaken by earthquakes in the 12th century, it was dismantled by 1260, when it served as the Mongol base for the last unsuccessful attack upon the Mamlukes of Egypt. But it revived, and most of its fine mosque and fortress architecture, still extant, belongs to the reign of Sultan Qalawun
Qalawun
Saif ad-Dīn Qalawun aṣ-Ṣāliḥī was the seventh Mamluk sultan of Egypt...

 (1282) and the succeeding century, during which Abulfeda describes it as a very strong place. In 1400 Timur
Timur
Timur , historically known as Tamerlane in English , was a 14th-century conqueror of West, South and Central Asia, and the founder of the Timurid dynasty in Central Asia, and great-great-grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived as the Mughal Empire in India until...

 pillaged it.

Ottoman period


In 1517, it passed, with the rest of Syria, to the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. But Ottoman jurisdiction was merely nominal in the Lebanon. Baalbek, badly shaken in the Near East earthquake of 1759
Near East earthquake of 1759
The Near East earthquake of 1759 was a devastating earthquake that shook a wide region in November, 1759.-See also:Historical earthquakes...

, was really in the hands of the Metawali (see Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

), who retained it against other Lebanese tribes. The colossal and picturesque ruins attracted particularly intrepid Westerners since the 18th century. The English visitor, Robert Wood
Robert Wood (engraver)
Robert Wood was a British traveller, classical scholar, civil servant and politician.In 1750-1751 Wood travelled around the Levant with two wealthy young Oxford scholars James Dawkins and John Bouverie and an Italian draftsman Giovanni Battista Borra...

, with Dawson was not simply a tourist: his carefully measured drawings were engraved for The Ruins of Baalbek (1757), which provided some excellent new detail in the Corinthian order
Corinthian order
The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...

 that British and European Neoclassical
Neoclassicism
Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome...

 architects added to their vocabulary. Robert Adam
Robert Adam
Robert Adam was a Scottish neoclassical architect, interior designer and furniture designer. He was the son of William Adam , Scotland's foremost architect of the time, and trained under him...

, for example, based a bed and one of the ceilings at Osterley House on the ceiling of the Temple of Bacchus, and the portico of St George's, Bloomsbury is based on that temple's portico.

Even after Jezzar Pasha, the rebel governor of Acre province, broke the power of the Metawali in the last half of the 18th century, Baalbek was no destination for the traveller unaccompanied by an armed guard. The chaos that succeeded his death in 1804 was ended only by the Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian occupation (1832). With the treaty of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 (1840) Baalbek became really Ottoman, the Encyclopædia Britannica (1911) reported, and since about 1864 had attracted great numbers of tourists. In November 1898, the German Emperor Wilhelm II
William II, German Emperor
Wilhelm II was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. He was a grandson of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe...

 on his way to Jerusalem, and passing by Baalbek was equally struck by the magnificence of the ruins projecting from the rubble, and the dreary condition. Within a month, the German archaeological team he dispatched was at work on the site. The campaign produced meticulously presented and illustrated series of volumes.



2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict



On August 4, 2006, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i helicopter-borne soldiers supported by bombs from aircraft entered the Hikmeh Hospital in Baalbek to capture senior members of Hezbollah who were considered to be responsible for the kidnapping of the two Israeli IDF soldiers on July 13, 2006 and who were believed to be residing in the building. The fighting between the fighters and Israeli forces caused minor damage to the hospital. Several gunmen were killed and weapons and ammunition were seized from inside the hospital building. No patients were hospitalized at the time.
It has been reported that during the conflict, vibrations caused by bombs damaged the ruins. UNESCO offered help to coordinate restoration efforts.

World Heritage Site


"Baalbek, with its colossal structures, is one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture at its apogee", UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 reported in making Baalbek a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

 in 1984. When the Committee inscribed the site, it expressed the wish that the protected area include the entire town within the Arab walls, as well as the south-western extramural quarter between Bastan-al-Khan, the Roman site and the Mameluk mosque of Ras-al-Ain. Lebanon's representative gave assurances that the Committee's wish would be honored.

Theories about the moving of the Trilithon and other megaliths


Roger Hopkins and Vince Lee have both theorized about how the megalithic stones were moved. They were both consulted about various megalithic moves around the world.

Roger Hopkins is a stonemason
Stonemasonry
The craft of stonemasonry has existed since the dawn of civilization - creating buildings, structures, and sculpture using stone from the earth. These materials have been used to construct many of the long-lasting, ancient monuments, artifacts, cathedrals, and cities in a wide variety of cultures...

 and sculptor who was consulted to do experiments in the movement of megaliths in Egypt (with Mark Lehrner) and other locations. He has suggested that the trilithon stones and 300 ton blocks were all moved with wooden rollers, demonstrating how this could be done by using steel rollers and levers to move a five to six thousand pound stone on a concrete platform by himself. He also participated in other experiments with larger stones, including some that may have been over 10 tons. These experiments required many more people. For 2 ton stones he was able to tow them with as few as 10 people at times and for faster results up to 20 people. Most experiments which have been done by Roger Hopkins and others to move stones 10 tons or more required well over 100 people.

Vince Lee is an architect, explorer and author. He has suggested that these stones were moved by flipping them with levers. According to this hypothesis a row of people would use 20 levers to pry up the trilithon blocks a little at a time. Each time they pried it up someone would put additional shims under the megalithic stones. After this was repeated enough times the stone would flip over on the next side. There would be a log on the other side that the stone would fall onto so that one side would already be lifted off the ground each time making it easier for the next flip. This would require over 300 flips for each of the trilithon stones and even more for the smaller 300 ton stones to cover the 1 mile distance from the quarry. Roger Hopkins and Mark Lehner
Mark Lehner
Mark Lehner PhD is an American archaeologist with more than 30 years of experience excavating in Egypt. His approach, as director of Ancient Egypt Research Associates , is to conduct interdisciplinary archaeological investigation. Every excavated object is examined by specialists to create an...

 also experimented with this technique on a smaller scale in Egypt during a NOVA pyramid building experiment. They found that they could flip stones up to about 3/4 of a ton with only 4 or 5 men, and they successfully flipped stones at least 2 and a 1/2 tons with more men; however, they found this was too slow to explain how the pyramids were built in so short a time.

Both Roger Hopkins and Vince Lee agreed that an earthen ramp would have been used to get the megaliths up the hill to the temple. They also agreed that the final placement would have involved flipping the megaliths and lowering it slowly by using sand to cushion the fall. The sand would have been placed where the trilithon stones were to be set, and when the stones were flipped into place the sand would be slowly removed. Additional experiments moving megaliths with ancient technology were done at other locations some of which are listed here.

Twin towns – Sister cities


Baalbek is twinned
Town twinning
Twin towns and sister cities are two of many terms used to describe the cooperative agreements between towns, cities, and even counties in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.- Terminology :...

 with: Bari
Bari
Bari is the capital city of the province of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea, in Italy. It is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples, and is well known as a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 L'Aquila
L'Aquila
L'Aquila is a city and comune in central Italy, both the capital city of the Abruzzo region and of the Province of L'Aquila. , it has a population of 73,150 inhabitants, but has a daily presence in the territory of 100,000 people for study, tertiary activities, jobs and tourism...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

, Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta (city)
Yogyakarta is a city in the Yogyakarta Special Region, Indonesia. It is renowned as a centre of classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry, and puppet shows. Yogyakarta was the Indonesian capital during the Indonesian National Revolution from 1945 to...

, Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

. Esfahan, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...


External links