Adonis Diaries

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Baalbek: The most majestic Temple of all times

The Temple of Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon was built more than 1,500 years before the City-State of Rome was constructed, and over 1,000 years before the City-State of Athens emerged.

Andre Geiger maintains that “Both the Acropolis in Athens and the Coliseum in Rome, combined, pale in comparison with the majesty and splendor of Baalbek…”

The Temple of Baalbek is one of mankind history of the loftiest acts and achievement, and it was built by the Canaanites and Phoenician engineering ingenuity and spiritual life-style.

The platform upon which sits the monument is 400-meter-long, 300-m-wide, and 20 meters high.

The Trilithon (the 3 foundation stones)  rise 7 meters, and each stone measuring 4 m-high and 19 m-long. Of the remaining 48 columns that make up the grand temple’s peristyle, the last 6 standing columns feature 19 m high drums, with 3 m-high capitals and a 5-m-high architrave.

Thus, if we add the 20 m-high platform to the 29 m-high of the column, we get  a total of 49 m-high sight.

The colossal square stone, referred to as the “pregnant lady” has the dimensions: 21.5 m by 4 m by 5 m-thick.  This smooth stone totals 433 cubic-meter and weight more than 1,000 metric ton. It requires the strength of 40,000 men to move this stone.

The overall plan of its infrastructure, its architectural scope, the scale of its design and the cyclopean size of the body, especially in the major segments of the foundations, attest to the Phoenician a religious architectural style, referred to as “Semite”.

It is the same style of the Temple of Eryx in west Sicily, and the same style of the small Temple of Solomon and the Great Mosque in Damascus.

The main features are outdoor courtyards, open-air inner courtyards, side sections reserved for sacrificial rites, purification rituals, covered walkways, special aisles for the faithful, and a “holy of hollies” ensconced in a hidden recess of the sanctuary, reserved for the cult’s dignitaries and initiates.

The inner layout and discrete functionality, the basic floor-plans… are intimately related

It is reported that Solomon commissioned the Phoenicians to build on the site of Baalbek a private shrine, set slightly apart from the main temple.  This shrine was dedicated in the Song of Songs “Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from my favorite Lebanon…”

It is not plausible that the Romans decided to build the most majestic of monuments at the confine of its empire, thousands of miles from Rome. It is like France building Versailles in Ouagadougou (Africa) or in the Huran province in south Syria.

The Roman Emperor who restored Baalbek in the mid 3rd century AD was from Syria by origin. And it happened that Rome was planning its biggest celebration of the millennium of its founding.

In order to feel free from wars for this celebration, the Roman emperor made a deal with Persia and paid yearly tax. And the Best monuments in the Empire were restored and refurbished. And Baalbek was the Jewel monument, closest to Persia.

This splendid and spectacular work must have taken decades to finish. It is the culmination of a long-term joint venture, a peace treaty, signed by rich empires, who kept their words, and the monument was a clause in the treaty in order to worship the same Gods, and respect the customs and traditions…

Note 1: All temples in antiquity, including the temples in Greece and Rome emulated the Phoenician style. The Greek and Romans also copied the open-air amphitheaters and race tracks of the Phoenician city-states. The race track in Tyre is a living witness, and dating back to 200 BC, when it was no longer a mighty city.

Note 2: “6,000 years of peaceful contribution to mankind” by late Charles Corm

Note 3: The Phoenicians built the City-State of Thebes in Greece, capital of Boeotia 300 years before Athens emerged as a city. Alexander destroyed Thebes because it refused to acknowledge him king of Greece. It is reported that Alexander ordered that the house of Dionysus is left intact. Why? During a visit of Alexander to Athens, he approached this philosopher who lived in a barrel and asked him “How can I be of help?”. The philosopher replied “Just step aside. Your shadow is blocking my sun”




June 2023

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