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Largest known megalithic block from antiquity revealed at Baalbek

Largest known megalithic block from antiquity revealed at Baalbek


A new analysis conducted by the German Archaeological Institute at the ancient stone quarry of Baalbek/Ancient Heliopolis, in Lebanon, has calculated the size and weight of an enormous monolith, and can now conclude that it is the largest known stone block ever carved by human hands.

Located at an altitude of approximately 1,170 meters in the Beqaa valley, Baalbek is known to have been settled from at least 7,000 BC, with almost continual settlement of the Tell under the Temple of Jupiter, which was a temple since the pre-Hellenistic era. However,  some researchers, such as Graham Hancock, argue that its roots go back as many as 12,000 years. During the period of Roman rule, Baalbek was known as Heliopolis (“City of the Sun”), and housed one of the largest and grandest sanctuaries in the empire.

Layout of the temple complex at Baalbek

Layout of the temple complex at Baalbek. (Wikipedia)

One of the most awe-inspiring features of Baalbek are the incredible megalithic foundations of the Temple of Jupiter. The temple was built on platform of stones that are among the largest building blocks seen in the whole world. Twenty-seven of these enormous limestone blocks can be seen at its base with three of them, weighing about 1,000 tons each, known as the “Trilithon.”

How they were cut so finely and moved into place has defied explanation, particularly considering the blocks are known to have weighed over 1000 tons.  Many researchers, Graham Hancock included, reject the traditional explanation that the blocks are the work of the Romans. Indeed, a quick glance at the photograph below clearly shows a difference in style and appearance between the large megalithic stones and the surrounding blocks used to build the temple.

“I do not agree with the mainstream archaeological view that any of the three megalithic blocks in the quarry, or the enigmatic megalithic foundations of the Temple of the Jupiter, are the work of the Romans,” writes Graham Hancock. “I believe these huge megaliths long predate the construction of the Temple of Jupiter and are likely to be 12,000 or more years old -- contemporaneous with the megalithic site of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey. I suggest we are looking at the handiwork of the survivors of a lost civilisation, that the Romans built their Temple of Jupiter on a pre-existing, 12,000-years-old megalithic foundation.”

Photograph from the 1890s showing the huge megalithic foundations of the Temple of Jupiter

Photograph from the 1890s showing the huge megalithic foundations of the Temple of Jupiter (public domain)

Quarry of megalithic blocks

The gigantic blocks used in the foundations of the Temple of Jupiter are known to have come from a nearby quarry located around 800 meters (2,600 ft) from the temple. The limestone quarry houses two massive building blocks that never made it to the temple – one weighing about 1,240 tons, and the other, known as the “Hajjar al-Hibla,” or The Stone of the Pregnant Woman, weighs about 1000 tons.

Archaeologists believe the Hajjar al-Hibla monolith was left in the quarry, because the stone quality of a block’s edge proved to be poor and the monolith could easily be damaged during transport.

The Stone of the Pregnant Woman at Baalbek

The Stone of the Pregnant Woman at Baalbek (Wikipedia)

According to Discovery News, the German archaeological team have now found a third building block next to the Hajjar al-Hibla stone and underneath it. Still partially buried, the monolith measures measures 19.6 meters (64 feet) in length, 6 meters (19.6 feet) in width, and at least 5.5 meters (18 feet) in height. Its weight has been estimated at 1,650 tons, making it the largest known stone block from antiquity.

“The level of smoothness indicate the block was meant to be transported and used without being cut,” the German Archaeological Institute said in a statement.

Further excavations will attempt to establish whether the newly-discovered block suffered from the same problem as the Hajjar al-Hibla stone, resulting in its abandonment in the quarry.

By April Holloway



Why would they torture themselves by shaping such massive pieces of stone, knowing how difficult they would be to move . . . even an inch? Why not just cut them into smaller more manageable stone blocks as the Romans did much later?
There's definitely a number of forgotten techniques that involved ancient peoples when it came to moving such massive monoliths. Over a thousand tons. . . That truly is incredible.

The Stone of the Pregnant Woman seems to be the other one, not that one from the picture ! Wikipedia says "English: Ralph Ellis on the largest stone at Baalbek, in the second quarry". But I guess it is not the largest ! The largest ones are in the first quarry and beneath The Stone of the Pregnant Woman !

tv critics aside the platform doesn't fit the temples, evidence of polygonal masonary unheard of by romans.
erosion of striking differences between platform and temples including under roman proven evidence of roman stone in lower platform.various unheralded architect features of platform without pupose in temple construction.even larger worked blocks under stone of pregnant women.inexplicable in terms of roman construction. as always the best stuff is at the bottom.the evidence for an advanced earlier culture growing more irrefutable with each fresh dig.turn oif the tv grab a shovel,or at least listen to those who have.

The stone shown in the first diagram is not the largest.

The largest stone is figure 4, which has me standing on it. And the diagram is mislabeled too, because the two stones are not in the same quarry and the Stone of the Pregnant Woman is the smaller of the two. This is why you should visit the areas you are writing about. (Nobody seems to visit the second quarry.)

Incidentally, I think the name is derived from Mother Earth and her lithic child. The stone is only attached to the Earth by an 'umbilical cord', as if it is a child of Mother Earth.

And we know that these massive stones are not Roman, because there are clearly two building eras at Baalbek. Take a look at the following image, which is in one of the tunnels under the temple platform. There is a megalithic era at the bottom, and Roman stonework above. So how long did it take to erode the megalithic structure down, before the Romans built a new layer above? Thousands of years, obviously. See K2, Quest of the Gods.

See the image of the tunnel on the facebook page.


Dundee Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 24 August 1892


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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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