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Rossi d'Providence

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Image source: Jupiter Images

Baalbek Stone of the Pregnant Woman: Unbelievably Massive Stone in the Quarry Near Baalbek, Lebanon.

The Baalbek trilithon is a set of three massive stone blocks which are part of the foundation of the Temple of Jupiter Baal ("Heliopolitan Zeus") in Baalbek.
They are so large that people cannot imagine how they were cut and transported to the site. As impressive as these three stone blocks are, though, there is a fourth block still in the quarry which is three feet longer than the blocks in the trilithon and which is estimated to weigh 1,200 tons. Locals have named it Hajar el Gouble (Stone of the South) and Hajar el Hibla (Stone of the Pregnant Woman), with the latter apparently being the most popular.


The Baalbek Thinker and the Frog

by Rossi d'Providence

Stymied by the trilithons (those Baalbek megalithes) being positioned together with such precision I sat on a log in the plush forest and refused to budge until I had figured out exactly how these feats were performed in a time when there were little means to do so. After many hours of thinking and then thinking some more I felt like I had taken on a task too big for my simple mind.
Just then as my eyes were rolling in confusion I noticed a frog had sat himself down beside me and openly began snickering at my attempting to unravel the mysteries of Baalbek.
I asked him, why are you snickering at me?
He answered, because you cannot see the forest for the trees.
What does that mean, I asked him?
Well, he replied, think of what was available to the stonemasons in that period.
What were their surroundings.
Forests of Lebanese cedar trees, I responded, among other simple objects. Rope too, and stone.
Fine, he said. Now apply all those items and there is your answer.
Tell me more, I pleaded with him, for I still cannot put the three together.
Well, he said, I will help you to the extent I am able, but there is a point at which you have to use your own mental abilities and imagination to complete the task of moving and placing the stones.
Go on, please, I begged him.
The frog smiled at me then told me to imagine that I had two smaller stones rectangular as an example. If I had plumbed the vertical of the facing sides to be united and put them near each other I would have half the battle won. Now if I were to put logs between the two stones and wet them down well, the wood would expand and one of the stones would move away from the other by the force of the wet expanding wood. Yet in this way you would have no control on the movement of the direction of expansion, so let us hypothetically weigh one of the stones down with another stone of near weight of the one I wish to move, and the wet expanding wood would cause the free stone to move in a direction away from its weighed-down partner stone and in the direction of choice.
So, in other words, I tried to understand the frog's logic, this process of expanding wood would in effect move the free stone a good distance toward the stone of which I am trying to unite it with. Wow, that is a simple method for moving the stones in close quarters, I am amazed, I wouldn't need so many workers to do this, either.
Correct, said the frog.
But what if the stones I united were to come together off kilter?
The frog again smiled and said, then do the same thing on the side of the stones to nudge them together for a better fit. At that he leaped away. Quickly I ran after him, hey wait, I have more questions, I called to him. I'll bet you do, the frog chuckled.
Please, come sit with me a bit more so I can get my head settled about this matter.
For instance, how did they lift the stones into position?
 Tsk, tsk, he replied, take the word "lift" out of the equation - nobody can lift those stones in those ancient times. Keep in mind they were put in place thousands of years before the Romans, with their advancements, came upon them.
Then how, I pleaded?
Okay, the frog relented. In the pyramids there are writings on the inside walls left by the gangs who built those monuments - they say, "Khufu's boys were here", “This is the work of Khufu’s gang”, etc. let me stress that when the pyramids towers were built and these Baalbek stones were put into place there was no written language, no writing at all, only what we call 'pictographs'. Especially no language among the lowly peasant stonemasons and farmers working in the worst conditions to eke out a living for their families, or slaves even. Their language was the stone itself.
They, the workers, talked to the historian of the future with the stones they worked. Now, think of the Aswan stone lying in the niche out of which it was carved. Think of that massively long stone lying there, not as a stone, but as a volume of words and directions, for it was left there not as a mistake as the university educated grave robbers would have you think, it was left there to convey the methods used in all the mega-stones ever dug up and erected. Aswan is a book of knowledge written or formed where there was no language.
Wow, I replied. So what you are saying, I pressed on, is that all my question’s answers are in that quarry. Exactly, he smiled.
But that doesn't answer my simple question of how the Baalbek stones were put into place so exactly, so precisely, remember, I am just a human being, not a wise frog. Okay, let's go back to the beginning, he led me back to the log where we again sat down together.
Whenever you want to match up two large stones always reduce the surface area to be matched. If you try to match one huge stone to another they will never fit together perfectly, or at lease the job is made more difficult merely by the size of the stones. And remember, stones breath and stretch and contract just like all other matter. So, to lessen the matching area plumb the sides to be united very perfectly - this must be done precisely so that all sides of the stones will show no spaces between them once they come together, then gently hollow out one stone just barely noticeably without going near the edges of the four sides. the two stones will then fit together nicely and seem as though the two sides are a perfect surface match. You can nudge them into a tight fit by the wet wood method or use another method if you can conjure up one. Remember the Aswan quarry, simple wood wedges were going to be used to 'raise' that enormously heavy stone away from its mountain connection. They were moving that massive stone vertically, your task is to move the stones horizontally - a much simpler process indeed.
Wow, I again show amazement at this frog's knowledge. How did we move the Baalbek stones from their quarry to the monument, I then questioned this amazing frog?
Well, he replied, that is the easy end of the project . . . think of  the wet wood process for releasing the stones from the quarry, clear one side of the intended stone, run a line down that length, install the wood wedges, wet them well and knock away the debris, then do the same on all three remaining sides, then the under-carriage which will free the rectangular stone. Stone quarries today use the same method. Then, as far as getting these puppies to the site - keep in mind, these men were masters with rope and wood, sailors they were, hearty sailors who lived on the seas with nothing more at their disposal than the rope and wood before them, so when they were called up to move these mega-stones they just simply moved the stones. The task was a might simpler than hoisting ship's rigging in a raging storm while being tossed about like a cork on water. Just a walk in the park to these salty gents.
Frog, I love the way you talk, please tell me more. How did these 'sailors' move these massive blocks of stones from the quarry?, I pressed him on.
Well, he said, they really didn't finish the stones at the quarry since they knew the stones were going to take quite a beating on the way to the final destination. And these sailors and stonemasons had a way of knitting the ropes into shawls, like the shawls women knitted for their shoulders, but these shawls were three to four feet wide and forty to fifty feet long and inter-woven in such a way that the rope one pulled at either end was wound throughout the shawl so that as one end was pulled away from the other end the weave tightened even more. They would lay these shawls along the ground, five to six of them side by side and get the stone onto the shawls crossways, then take the rope farthest away and bring it over the stone toward the direction of the pull so they could heave from the top most of the stone’s rotation towarded them, and simply roll that puppy side over side until the shawl was used up and then redo the process all over again, until the stone came up to the site and was then finished off and nudged into place. So the stones never crushed the rope when it fell onto it? Well, the frog laughed, no, that shawl was weaved with such a fine thick rope and so tight and the ground so soft that the stone didn't stand a chance against these swabs. Well, I'll be, I exclaimed. What about the biggest stone that still lies in the quarry, the 'pregnant woman stone'. Oh, that piece of hardware, he slapped my arm. Remember the Aswan quarry he said, no written words? They left that stone there to show ya’al how it was done. In fact the stonemasons working on that monster never intended it to be part of the structure of the trilithon, it was meant to be raised to an upright position to be used as a stele to show their might to roaming bands of invaders.
That's why it was quarried in a nearly upright position to make the eventual raising a little easier. You don't quarry a stone on that kind of rotational angle unless you intend to raise it upright in its position. How do you know all these things I asked this frog? Well, son, all you need to do is think deeply, and it will come. But I was thinking very deeply and those answers didn't come, The frog laughed heartily, think again, son, think again. Before you sat on this log and attempted to think for some answers you hadn’t a clue. Now that you did some thinking you well know the answers. How do you tally that, son? If you didn't get to thinking so hard and so deeply and earnestly I might never have heard you grinding the gray matter.
Hey, maybe you can tell me how Moses parted the Red Sea, I joked? He shook his head sideways and said, hell that's just a book son, that's just a book. Remember the writing inside the pyramid -sometimes writing takes you off in the wrong direction, because those who write most times never really got down and dirty with the real thing. You can't write about Rembrandt if you can't paint like Rembrandt, you'd just be spittin' into the wind and more then likely misleading the reader. Just than a big ol' fly zipped by and the frog snatched it right out of the air with his long sticky proboscis. Yum, he said, there ain't nothing like a fat fly to take the edge off a green fella.
Okay, okay, I settled in, there is another matter that greatly puzzles me - the pyramids at Egypt. Let's talk about them. Did you think on them, he asked? Well, of course I did, for many years I thought on them. Well then, you sit here and think some more and I assure you the answers will come.
Oh com'on, that's not fair, I argued, you got me going and now you want to leave when your presence is so needed? Please, I begged him?!
And he was gone, again. This time I did not know where or in which direction he went. So, I took that frog’s advice and began thinking very deeply on how those pyramids were built and by whom, when all of a sudden . . .

Copyright by Rossi d'Providence (fine-artist)
Presented with permission of the author

Seekonk, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Unfinished Obelisk - one of the red granite quarries that provided stone for Ancient Egyptian temples and statues still holds a giant and unfinished obelisk. The obelisk is roughly dressed and was in the process of being 'cut free' of the surrounding rock. A flaw in the stone developed, which is still very visible, and the work was abandoned. It is thought that this was the pair of the Lateran Obelisk, which is now in Rome, which originally stood before Karnak Temple and was commissioned for Tuthmosis III.

From the chisel marks and the ancient tools found in the area, some of the ancient quarry techniques have been determined. These include soaking wooden blocks to encourage the rock to crack and also using quartz sand slurry as an abrasive. The huge effort required to free this Obelisk is staggering, especially considering the basic tools and lack of any non-manual techniques. If the piece was freed an equally monumental effort would have been needed to move it 220 Km from the Quarry to the Nile, and then to Karnak.


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Building in Egypt: Pharaonic Stone Masonry

by Dieter Arnold

Book Description
This book traces methods of Egyptian stone construction during the pharaonic period, from the construction of the step pyramids at Saqqara to the obelisks of Tuthmosis III to the temples of Rameses II at Thebes. Dr. Arnold covers all aspects of building, including planning, measuring, quarrying and production, transporting heavy monuments, building, digging shafts, repairing damages, and securing tombs. Richly illustrated with photos and field drawings by the author, ancient representations of building activities, and illustrations of tools and objects in museum collections, this book offers a frank appraisal of current knowledge of the process of Egyptian stone construction.

History of Baalbek
by Michel M. Alouf, Tedd St Rain (Introduction)

At one time, the worldwide fame of the ruins at Baalbek drew huge numbers of tourist crowds. In the present day, a trip to Baalbek is extremely difficult and considerably dangerous. Luckily, the former curator of the site, Michel M. Alouf, made his years of research available in this heavily illustrated work. The massive multi-level platform found at Baalbek, is believed by some scientists to be one of the "only" prediluvial sites that survived the flood. At a much later time, it became very well known to the Romans, who desecrated the site to build their magnificent temples. In fact, the largest Roman temples ever built were not in Rome, but were found at Baalbek. One of the most puzzling aspects of the ruins at Baalbek are the 1,000-plus ton stones which formed part of the original temple platform. A recent visit to the site allowed inspection of these large stones, and of the one at the quarry (pictured on the cover), where new measurements were taken which revealed the largest and most precisely cut stone at the Trilithon may weigh in at over 1,500 tons. The largest modern cranes in the world would have difficulty in lifting, let alone moving, these massive limestone blocks, and yet there they sit. These stones, and many other aspects of this important historical site are described at length in this handy reference guide.


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