Baalbek



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Section: Baalbek

Ancient Aliens: “Eastern Lebanon – the Bar Car Valley. Here, at this archaeological site stand the ruins of Heliopolis built in the fourth century BC by Alexander the Great to honour Zeus. But beneath the Corinthian columns and remnants of both Greek and Roman architecture lie the ruins of a site that is much, much older. According to archaeologists it dates back nearly 9,000 years. The ancient city of Baalbek, named after the early Canaanite deity Baal.”

AA: “And so because it was already sacred to the god Baal then later the Greeks and the Romans would build temples on this very same spot.”

AA: “Archaeological surveys have revealed that the enormous stone foundation that lies at the base of the site dates back tens of thousands of years, but even more significant to ancient astronaut theorists is their belief that the colossal stone platform may once have served as a landing pad for space travellers.”

The idea that Ancient Aliens will try to convey is that underneath the Roman ruins lies a very old platform that was once used to launch spacecraft.

As we watch the next clip, listen for the first thing they site as evidence for this claim.

AA: “But what was originally there before the Roman temple was this space-board platform that was apparently used for extra-terrestrials coming and going on planet Earth.”

AA: “As evidence researchers point to the gigantic megalithic stones incorporated into the foundation. Each weighing between 800-1200 tones and perfectly fitted together.”

These three stones they are referring to are called the Trilithons and the heaviest of the three is 800 tons, not 1200 tons as they say.[1] There are two other stones that are heavier than this around the area[2], but they are unused[3] and still connected to the bedrock in the quarries, and thus are obviously not a part of the trilithons.

The way the information is presented about these three stones leads the viewer to believe that they are part of the foundation, or platform of the Baalbek site. What they want the viewer to think is that spacecraft lifted off and landed on the stones of this platform.

They also claim that these three stones cannot be of Roman construction, as the mainstream archaeologists believe, but  that they were a part of the earliest structure at the Baalbek site, and that the Greeks and Romans only built on top of this ancient foundation.

And it is true that there was a very old pre-Roman temple at this site, but we will learn more about that later.

Our focus at the moment is the Trilithons stones. Ancient Aliens says these three stones are the real mystery of Baalbek.

AA: “This is the real mystery of Baalbek. How these stones came to be there; why they were placed there; and specifically how they were transported into place, because some of the stones are of such magnitude that modern machinery isn’t capable of putting them there, but somehow our ancestors were able to do this.”

To solve this mystery we need to first understand that these three stones do not form the foundation of Baalbek as is so often suggested.

The Trilithon stones lay end to end or long ways, and are part of the narrow wall on the western end of the complex. They are most certainly not the foundation, nor do they constitute a platform, and it would be very awkward for a spaceship to land on top of them considering the space on top is so narrow.

Ancient Aliens tries to make it seem like no one knows the purpose for these stones, or why that had to be so heavy.

AA: “But if the moving, hoisting and setting of such massive stones was so incredibly difficult, then who or what placed them there and, perhaps more importantly, why?”

The truth is that the purpose for this wall is very well known by archaeologists. It was a retaining wall.[4]

Retaining wall technology really improved with the Greeks because of the importance of the amphitheatre in their culture. Because most amphitheatres were sunken into the ground and surrounded by earth, they needed to construct retaining walls to hold back the soil.

Then the Romans came along and basically perfected the practice.

The rule of thumb in retaining walls, even today is the bigger and heavier the stones the better the retaining wall. Also the stones needed to be in as big of sections as possible. in other words, huge sections of uncut stone.

It is no coincidence that some of the biggest single stones in the ancient world besides Baalbek, are also used in retaining walls, and by the Romans as well, as we will see.

Retaining walls were especially important if there was a lot of soil erosion at the site, or if the platform you were trying to build was on a steep incline.

At Baalbek the platform was built right on the side of a huge hill, so for that reason alone it would require a retaining wall if they intended to make a large level platform. But if you added to that a soil erosion problem, you would have two very good reasons for a huge retaining wall at Baalbek.

So does the area around Baalbek have a problem with soil erosion? The answer is yes, probably one of the biggest in the world. You can see evidence of soil erosion all around the Baalbek site. The soil from the top of the hill has been sliding[5] down the hill into the valley below for hundreds of years.

One of the leading causes of soil erosion is deforestation. If an area that once had trees has been completely cleared of those trees, the rain no longer will have anything to slow down its velocity. Normally the rain hits tree branches and the thick foliage that accumulates on the forest floor over time. Also the soil is kept in check by root systems of trees which hold the soil in place.

Lebanon has a picture of a cedar tree on its flag. Their trees have been a symbol of pride for millennia – the so called Cedars of Lebanon.  But the forests have disappeared long ago as they were one of the only sites for timber in the ancient near east, and it was massively deforested in ancient times. 

In fact the soil shifting is just as bad today in the Bekka valley. The UN in 2006[6] proposed a series of solutions to deal with this now full scale environmental disaster in the Baalbek region. Homes in the region are being abandoned as their foundations shift and they become inhabitable. But although these proposed solutions by the UN may be new, this problem is an ancient one, one the Romans would have been well aware of.

The massive Trilithon stones provided the weight needed to press down and secure the stones in the wall below.

This is why you only see these huge stones one side of Baalbek – the side where the steep slope is. The idea that these stones were part of a platform and were used as a landing pad is something that requires ignorance of the layout of the site in order to believe.

Well what about the age of this wall, is it from the Roman period of construction, or is it from the pre-Roman Canaanite era?

There is a lot of confusion about this point because there was indeed a very old pre-Roman temple on this site.

The Pre-Roman Canaanite temple was a pretty standard platform and alter much like other sites built by the Canaanites,[7][8] which were referred to in the Old Testament as “high places.” 

This original site was probably chosen by the Canaanites because it was indeed on a hill, as any good “high place” should be, but also because it was less than half a mile from the perfect stone quarry.[9]

The early versions of this temple however did not have a retaining wall. As the different groups added to the site over the years the site changed drastically, the Romans alone spent 200 years doing construction at the site. Think of that, that would be like starting a construction project in 1812 that only just now came to completion. That’s a long time to be working on a project.

So yes Baalbek is built on a very old Canaanite alter to Baal, but the Trilithon stones were not part of that site, nor are they part of the foundation as is often claimed. They are part of a very necessary retaining wall.

The question still remains however about the methods for moving and lifting these stones:

AA: “Some have suggested that this stone alone weighs in excess of 1,200 tones. How was it moved there, because obviously it’s situated on top of these stone rows that we can find down here, which means that this stones had to be lifted and then set on top of these stones down here?”

So, did the Romans have the technology to move and lift such stones?

Well, all you have to do is look one country over to find out.

About the same time the Romans were beginning their 200 year project at Baalbek, another project of similar magnitude was beginning by the Roman “client king” Herod “the great” in 19BC.[10]

Herod, using Roman techniques, renovated the temple mount to earn favour with the Jews, who viewed him as a Roman proxy and not a Jew.

The expanded version of the temple was double the size of the original, but in order to make this expansion, he had to incorporate part of the hill to the northeast, which meant that he had to construct a massive retaining wall in order to hold back the force of the earth in order to build the massive platform.

There is a portion of this retaining wall still standing today, and it contains the second largest set of single stones, next to Baalbek.

Just like Baalbek there are several of these stones lined up to form the wall and to provide the weight and size needed to hold back the earth. They call the four largest stones the “Master Course.”[11]

The weight of the heaviest one is 630 tons, only a little over 100 tons less than Baalbek’s biggest stone. And no one denies that these stones were cut, moved and lifted to perfection using Roman and local techniques.[12]

(As a side note, it’s tempting to think the holes visible in theses stones were used for lifting, but these holes were cut after the stones were placed, they were used to hold plaster in place for certain water projects, and only go a few inches deep.)[13]

Anyway is it really logical to believe that the Romans could cut, move and lift 630 ton blocks for retaining walls just fine, but if you added another 100 tons, it would require alien technology?

We know that the Romans, about the same time, had taken a liking to Egyptian obelisks and they started dragging them back to Rome in large numbers, and Rome was hundreds of miles by land and sea from Egypt whereas Baalbek was less than a mile from the quarry.

Some of these obelisks were almost 500 tons.[14] So the Romans had a lot of opportunities to get good at moving stones about the same size and shape as the Trilithon stones.

There are even Roman descriptions of this process of moving Obelisks by Marcellinus Comes as well as reliefs, such as the one on the bottom of the Theodosius Obelisk in Istanbul.[15][16][17]

The ancient Roman writings of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio describe in detail many of the Roman technological advantages like pulleys, which would reduce the force needed by half for each pulley used. He even described their ingenious way of moving stones[18] by constructing huge oak wheels on either end of the block, whether they were round, like pillars or huge rectangular stones like the Trilithons; they would then be pulled by oxen to the site.

So what about the lifting of the Trilithon stones at Baalbek?

Some make the point that the Trilithon stones do not have “Lewis Holes” in them like many of the other Roman stones at Baalbek. Lewis Holes is the name for the holes the Romans would drill in stones for lifting with their cranes…yes, the Romans had cranes.[19][20] And although their cranes only had a five ton capacity, often they would combine many of them together, which would obviously give them greater capacity.[21]

So why don’t these three stones contain these holes like all the rest of the stones at Baalbek? Well first of all, I wouldn’t be so sure that they don’t, no one has ever seen what is on the ends of these stones. It may very well be that the decided against a straight up or dead lift of the trilithon stones because of their weight, and instead decided to lift up only one side of the stone.

You would only need to lift it high enough and long enough to get even the smallest brace underneath it, because at that point you would have a number of mechanical advantages and therefore options.

For example watch as this man makes a Stonehenge in his back yard all by himself using a simple counter weight method.

“I’ve tried to do this without any mechanical machinery at all. I’ve used mostly sticks and stones for my equipment. No pullies. No hoist. No metal ladders. I’m just trying to use gravity too. I believe this is my favourite tool.

Girl: The first goal is getting this block three feet off the ground.

In order to move it up at this point I just rock the block back and forth – adding weight to that end – and that opens a gap on this side and I just slide a board in. Then I add the weight to that end and slide a board in at this end.

Girl: This Suring box acts like a jack, slowing raising the block.”

But its not really even necessary for them to have been lifted. A French Paper written by Jean-Pierre Adam  meticulously details how the stones could have been moved using the specifications provided by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio by constructing roads underneath the stones on rollers[22], and the roads were raised to lead to the exact place of their placement, which was easy at Baalbek because of the terrain,  so it wouldnt require any lifting, and then using man powered  drums and a system of capstans to pull the stones along the road.

This method would only require 144 workers to accomplish.

It’s also helpful for people to remember that the largest stone ever moved in the world is the so called Thunder Stone in Russia, moved in the 1700’s using no modern equipment[23], and this stone is 1.5 tons larger than the largest trilithon stone, and we know that moving it didn’t require alien technology.

Well what about this claim?

AA: “What’s really interesting about Baalbek is that it’s always been known as the landing place. There’s an actual text from Sumerian times known as the epic of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh actually claims to have seen rockets descend and ascend from Baalbek – the landing place.”

These claims come directly from the writings Zechariah Sitchin, and they are totally untrue. Baalbek was not called the “landing place”, and the Epic of Gilgamesh never speaks of rockets ascending and descending anywhere in it.[24]

Michael Heiser: “If you’re going to make these ascertains I would want to see the passage in Gilgamesh that names Baalbek specifically. I’m naturally sceptical that there is a passage, but if you’re going to make this claim you have to be able to establish with certainty, not even just a general region, that these are the stones that are being referred to in any given text.”

Sitchin, when making this claim in his book, never tells the reader here they can find this in the Epic of Gilgamesh. This is probably because it makes it harder for the reader to check his facts.

Heiser: “I have personally found the writings of Sitchin very frustrating from the perspective of a scholar and an academic – which is what I am. It’s very hard to follow his trail because he doesn’t cite sources. Even if he cites a source, for instance an ancient text, he doesn’t give you the chapter and verse, he doesn’t give you the tablet and line numbers. I have to look at it and say it’s either really lazy or he doesn’t want you to check up on him. It’s one or the other.”

I will link the actual section of the epic as well as a link to the online resources to check the Sumerian texts yourselves at the website ancientaliensdebunked.com[25]

Nowadays all the Sumerian tablets, including their own dictionaries are searchable online, yes the Sumerians wrote their own extensive and detailed dictionaries, so we don’t have to trust Sitchin or anyone else, we can basically just ask the Sumerians what they thought a word meant.

It becomes painfully obvious to anyone that cares enough to look that Sitchin was at best totally incompetent as a translator and at worst a scam artist. See sitchiniswrong.com to being your journey in losing any confidence in the so called “translations” of Zechariah Sitchin.

In conclusion: The trithilon stones are part of a necessary retaining wall, not a foundation, and such walls were common to the Greeks and Romans. The retaining wall was not part of the simple, original, much smaller temple at Baalbek. And we know from other retaining walls of similar size, built by the Romans at the same time and in the same area, time, that they were more than capable of moving and placing stones of that size and shape, also evidenced by their ability to move Obelisks. This is especially true if you gave them 200 years, and some roman pulleys and cranes.


[1]Adam, Jean-Pierre (1977), “À propos du trilithon de Baalbek: Le transport et la mise en oeuvre des mégalithes”, Syria 54 (1/2): 31–63

[2]Ruprechtsberger, Erwin M. (1999), “Vom Steinbruch zum Jupitertempel von Heliopolis/Baalbek (Libanon)”, Linzer Archäologische Forschungen 30: 7–56

[3] Alouf, Michael M., 1944: History of Baalbek. American Press. p. 139

[4] Adam 1977, p. 52

[5]http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/crisis%20prevention/disaster/arab_states/Lebanon_Flood%20Risk%20Management%20and%20Soil%20Conservation%20for%20Livelihood%20Recovery.pdf

[6]Ibid.

[7] Adam 1977, p. 52

[8] Kalayan, H., ’Notes on the Heritage of Baalbek and the Beqa’a’ in Cultural Resources in Lebanon, Beirut, 1969

[9] Adam, Jean Pierre; Anthony Mathews (1999). Roman Building: Materials and Techniques. Routledge. p. 35.

[11] Galyn Wiemer. “Jerusalam 101.” Jerusalam 101 – Ashlar Stones of Herod’s Building Projects, http://www.generationword.com/jerusalem101/33-ashlar-stones.html

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] PBS – Nova. “Nova.” Obelisks of Rome, November 2000. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/egypt/raising/rome.html.

[15] Ibid.

[18]Jean-Pierre Adam, 1977, A propos du trilithon de Baalbek. Le transport et la mise en oeuvre des mégalithes, – http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/syria_0039-7946_1977_num_54_1_6623, English – http://michaelsheiser.com/PaleoBabble/2012/08/transporting-trilithon-stones-baalbek-applied-physics-ancient-aliens/

[19] Lancaster, Lynne (1999), “Building Trajan’s Column”, American Journal of Archaeology 103 (3): 419–439, DOI:10.2307/506969, JSTOR 506969

[20] Dienel, Hans-Liudger; Meighörner, Wolfgang (1997), “Der Tretradkran”, Publication of the Deutsches Museum (Technikgeschichte series) (München)

[21] Ibid.

[22] Jean-Pierre Adam, 1977 http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/syria_0039-7946_1977_num_54_1_6623

[23] Jean-Pierre Adam, 1977