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. (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 (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 (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.