The Mystery of the Stones at Baalbek (by Alan Alford). Analysis of the Baalbek Platform. How was it built?











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The Mystery 
of the Stones at Baalbek

Mystic Places

Part 1  Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Books Links

The Mystery of the Stones at Baalbek (3)

By Alan F. Alford
Author of 'Gods of the New Millennium', 'The Phoenix Solution' and 'When The Gods Came Down'

Part 3 of 5

The Climax of Baalbek

It is now time to experience the climax of Baalbek, and this requires retracing our steps to the entrance, and skirting around the outer walls of the acropolis. On the way we see the stark contrast between more 300-ton megaliths and the much smaller fortifications of the Arabs.

At last we turn a corner and see, in the western (strictly south-western) wall of the platform, the great Trilithon.

The Trilithon is the lighter-coloured course in the wall and comprises three granite stones beautifully fitted together at a height of 20 feet above present ground level.

The angle of this photograph - compromised by the fence and woods which now obstruct the view of this wall, hardly does justice to the huge size of these blocks, which are 14 feet 6 inches in height, 12 feet thick, and a staggering 64 feet in length (on average).

These three stones are slightly smaller than the Stone of the South, which we saw earlier, and are estimated to weigh approximately 800 tons each.

Now feast your eyes once again on the awesome 1000-ton Stone of the South, which weighs approximately as much as three Boeing 747 aircraft:


Give your imagination a little exercise by mentally trimming this 1,000 ton megalith into an 800-ton block - that is four fifths of this size - and now, keeping that image in your mind, take another look at three such stones in the Trilithon. Can it be true? Are these stones really there? Yes, sir. I have seen it with my own eyes.

The locals call this the 'Miracle of the Three Stones'. I, on the other hand, prefer to call it 'the Archaeologist's Nightmare', for our minds immediately begin to reel with questions - who built this megalithic wall, when did they build it, how did they build it, and, more importantly, why did they build it in the way that they did?

This is one of the most amazing sights in the ancient world - the three 800-ton blocks of the mighty Trilithon (the lighter-coloured course), situated in a wall of the great acropolis of Baalbek in Lebanon.

Michel Alouf, the former curator of the ruins, once wrote of the Trilithon:

    '... in spite of their immense size, they [the Trilithon stones] are so accurately placed in position and so carefully joined, that it is almost impossible to insert a needle between them. No description will give an exact idea of the bewildering and stupefying effect of these tremendous blocks on the spectator'. [4]


Analysis of the Baalbek Platform

Observe in the above photograph the impressive platform of stones which underpins the Trilithon. Each of these stone blocks (the fifth visible layer of the wall) measures 33 by 14 by 10 feet and thus, according to my calculations, weighs approximately 300 tons. Note the outward tapering of these blocks. In my view this was once the platform's uppermost layer, with the Trilithon being a later addition.

Observe, too, the supporting layers beneath the 300-ton blocks - at least four layers of carefully constructed smaller stones.

Now look closely at the adjoining wall, i.e. the south-eastern wall of the acropolis.


Here we see another row of 300-ton megaliths, measuring 33 feet in length and 14 feet in height. This layer of megaliths is quite ill-matched; some blocks are tapered, others are not, and the cut of the tapering does not match, even on adjacent blocks. It is as if this south-eastern side of the platform (perhaps the uppermost layer of the original platform) has at one time sustained serious damage and been subsequently reconstructed.

The significant fact, which is not readily apparent without a visit to Baalbek, is this: the rows of 300-ton blocks in the adjoining south-western and south-eastern walls are at exactly the same level - in other words, the Trilithon layer rises above any of the other megalithic stones and does not form part of a level terrace. This fact has led me to a conclusion which is shared by some conventional researchers - that the Baalbek platform as it stands is incomplete, perhaps being part of an unfinished defensive wall.

Such a conclusion is supported by the Stone of the South, which is still attached to the rocky floor of the quarry. Whilst it is possible that the block was considered faulty, it is perhaps more likely that the Stone of the South was abandoned when the project as a whole was suddenly cancelled.


How was Baalbek built?

This view from the quarry shows that the distance to the Baalbek acropolis is not huge - no more than a third of a mile. Nor is the elevation very different between the two points. Although we do not know the topography of the site at the time the wall was constructed, it does seem feasible that the stones might have been dragged up a ramp to the position where they now lie. Theoretically, then, the lifting of the stones would have been limited only to positional adjustments.

Nevertheless, when we consider the size and weight of the Baalbek stones and the fact that the route to the acropolis is not entirely flat, transportation via non-technological means would have presented the builders with formidable problems.

So, how was the job done? How were three 800-ton stones cut, moved and erected in the Baalbek acropolis?

This is a question which must be tackled with great caution, for it is not at all clear who the builders of Baalbek actually were.

If you ask an archaeologist, he will tell you that the Romans built the temples of Baalbek and he or she might well point out that there are work gang inscriptions which date the construction of the Temple of Jupiter to the 1st century ad, i.e. to the Roman era. The archaeologist might also point out to you that the Romans did know how to move and lift heavy stones; after all, we know that they transported a large number of multi-hundred ton obelisks to Rome from Egypt, and that was no mean feat two thousand years ago.

The archaeologist will thus suppose that the platform of Baalbek, on which the Roman temples stand, must also belong to the Roman era. And he or she will thus explain the construction of the Trilithon by reciting what is known about Roman construction techniques. Thus the explanation involves the erection of the Trilithon by push-and-shove methods, with the Romans probably using nothing more than wooden rollers, ropes, wooden lifting frames and human muscle power.

Archaeologists typically overlook the fact that experiments with stones much lighter than 800 tons have crushed the wooden rollers. And even if such a method was feasible, it would, by one estimate, have required the combined pulling power of 40,000 men to move the Stone of the South.[5] Incredible indeed.

Is there any evidence that the Romans built the platform of Baalbek as well as the temples upon it? One text book assures us that: 'Part of a [Roman] drum or column similar to those found in the Temple of Jupiter was used as a block in the foundation under the Trilithon'.[6] But where is the evidence for this Roman drum? I myself have been to Baalbek and I can show you dozens of photographs of the foundation walls, but I cannot show you the alleged Roman drum. It seems to have vanished into thin air.

A good counter argument lies in the fact that the Baalbek platform is out of all proportion to the temples which stand upon it, being thus suggestive of two different phases in construction.[7] This same observation was made by Professor Daniel Krencker of the German archaeological mission, although it led him to the conclusion that the Temple of Jupiter was originally planned on the same colossal scale as these foundations.[8] In other words, Krencker believed that the Roman builders must have had a change of mind. (How many times have we heard this before? Call me a sceptic but it seems to me that 'a change of mind' is archaeologist-speak for anything which the archaeologist cannot comprehend!)

In the absence of any proof as to who built the platform of Baalbek, it becomes very difficult to draw any firm conclusions as to the construction methods used. What we can do, however, is demonstrate the scale of the job by explaining how the Trilithon would be erected using today's technology.

Continue (Part 4) >>

Copyright Notice
This article is  the copyright of Eridu Books 2004. The images and diagrams are the copyright of Alan Alford or of other photographers, where indicated. Eridu Books welcomes the reproduction and dissemination of these pages, in original, unaltered form, for non-commercial purposes, but permission must be sought for any other usage, other than 'fair dealing' quotations.
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