Modern Theories of Baalbek











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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 (5)

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

Part 5 of 5

The Local Legends of Baalbek

Curiously, it would seem that not one Roman emperor ever claimed credit for the Baalbek temple complex or for the construction of its massive foundations.[12]

Similarly, we find no evidence for Roman construction among the local people. What we do find instead are legends which suggest that Baalbek was built by super-human powers in an epoch long before human civilisation began.

The Arabs believed that Baalbek once belonged to the legendary Nimrod, who ruled this area of Lebanon. According to an Arabic manuscript, Nimrod sent giants to rebuild Baalbek after the Flood. Another legend states that Nimrod rebelled against Yahweh and built the Tower of Babel here, in order to ascend to Heaven and attack his God. According to one version of this legend, Nimrod ascended to the top of the Tower but found himself as far from his objective (Heaven) as when he had begun; after the Tower collapsed, Nimrod attempted to scale the heavens in a carriage drawn by four strong birds, but the carriage, after wandering for a long time in space, eventually crashed on Mount Hermon, thus killing Nimrod. Earlier in this tale, Nimrod had been visited by Abraham, who came as a messenger of God to warn Nimrod of punishment for his sins. But Nimrod, vexed by these threats, had cast Abraham into a blazing furnace (from which the latter somehow emerged unscathed).[13]

The local Muslims believed that it was beyond the capability of humans to move the enormous stones of Baalbek. Instead of giants, however, they credited the work to demons or djinn. Muslim tradition states that Baalbek was once the home of Abraham, and later of Solomon. It is also suggested that the prophet Elijah was taken into Heaven from Baalbek - upon a steed of fire.[14]

Other legends associated Baalbek with the Biblical figure of Cain - the son of Adam - claiming that he built it as a refuge after his god Yahweh had cursed him. According to Estfan Doweihi, the Maronite Patriarch of Lebanon: 'Tradition states that the fortress of Baalbek... is the most ancient building in the world. Cain, the son of Adam, built it in the year 133 of the creation, during a fit of raving madness. He gave it the name of his son Enoch and peopled it with giants who were punished for their iniquities by the flood.'[15]


Modern Theories of Baalbek

Few modern writers have dared to tackle the enigma of Baalbek, perhaps because Lebanon was off-limits to tourists during the troubled decades at the close of the second millennium.

One writer to take an interest is Andrew Collins, whose articles suggest the possibility that Baalbek was some kind of astronomical observatory.[16]

The best known 'alternative' theory, however, is that of ancient astronaut writer Zecharia Sitchin, who asserted that Baalbek was a space centre, built by a visiting race of 'Anunnaki' gods as a launching pad for their space rockets.[17] An intriguing aspect of Sitchin's theory was the connection between Baalbek-Heliopolis - the City of the Sun - and the ancient legend of the Sun-god who used to park his chariot at Baalbek. This rather appealing theory is, however, sunk (in my mind at least) by the revelations in my book 'When The Gods Came Down' (April 2000). In this book I revealed that the Sun-god and the Anunnaki had nothing whatsoever to do with ancient astronauts.[18]

To close with an amusing anecdote, the prize for the most imaginative theory of Baalbek must undoubtedly be awarded to the English traveller, David Urquhart, who suggested that the builders of Baalbek had used mastodons - huge extinct elephant-like mammals - as mobile cranes to help them move the stones![19]



Why did successive Roman emperors travel thousands of miles to Baalbek to receive oracles? Why did the Romans build the grandest of all their temples so far away from Rome? What motivated them to ship red granite columns all the way from Aswan in Egypt to the port of Tripoli, and from there to Baalbek via Homs, a detour which, in order to circumnavigate the mountains, required a journey of 200 kilometres? This was certainly a most inconvenient place to erect the greatest Roman temple in the world, so why did it have to happen here, in the Bekaa Valley, of all places?

If we can answer this question, we can perhaps solve the mystery of Baalbek. As one authority on Baalbek commented, however, 'nowhere is it clearly stated to what cause the religious importance of this town is attributed'.[20]

Ultimately, one suspects that the answer to the sanctity of Baalbek lies in a decoding of its ancient religion, for it is religion which has been the driving force at Baalbek since time immemorial.

The sanctity of Baalbek in Roman times has already been mentioned and one's attention is drawn inevitably to the trinity of gods who were worshipped here: Venus, Bacchus and the mighty Jupiter. The latter - equivalent to the Greek god Zeus - embodied all the symbolism of the archetypal Storm God. The fifth century writer Macrobius described the statue of Jupiter as follows:

    'The statue of the god is of gold, representing a person without a beard, who holds in his right hand a whip, charioteer-like, and in his left a thunderbolt with ears of corn.' [21]

What was the meaning of this Storm-God with thunderbolt? To modern scholars, Jupiter was a god of thunder and lightning and nothing but thunder and lightning. If modern scholars are to be believed, our quest for religious meaning at Baalbek culminates anti-climactically in the primitive worship of mundane weather-gods.

However, readers of my book 'When The Gods Came Down' will recognise in the statue described by Macrobius a crucial esoteric meaning in the connection between the thunderbolt and the 'ears of corn'.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the Roman gods are only part of the answer to the sanctity of Baalbek, for the town was in fact named after Baal, the Storm-God of the Canaanites/Phoenicians. And the legends of the god Baal provide numerous fascinating parallels to the gods of the ancient Mesopotamian exploded planet cults (as decoded in my books). Indeed, my own private research suggests that the Canaanite/Phoenician religion could itself be described as an exploded planet cult.

Inevitably, then, we must ask whether the importance of Baalbek might have resulted from a celestial event - perhaps the impact of a meteorite - during the pre-literate era. Might a meteorite be the key to the importance of Baalbek - the northern 'Heliopolis' - just as the meteorite called 'the Benben Stone' was the key to the importance of Annu - the southern 'Heliopolis' in ancient Egypt?

And what about those gigantic stones in the Trilithon? Were they constructed deliberately, perhaps to evoke the idea of the meteorites - the giant seeds of life - lying embedded in the foundations (or Womb) of Mother Earth? Or were they simply the remains of an unfinished defensive wall?

Perhaps we will never know the answer to this question or to the question of how the stones of the Trilithon were moved. The problem is that everyone sees at Baalbek what they want to see, based on their own preconceptions and their own paradigm. Perhaps it will always be so.

One final thought to close. If the mysterious stones of Baalbek are impelling us to exercise our minds, then perhaps the ancient builders are partly achieving their objectives. But in order for us to pass, as initiates, the Test of the Trilithon, it is necessary for us to do something more than merely exercise our minds. It is necessary first to challenge everything that we have ever been taught about the meaning and origins of religion...



  • [1] A Boeing 747 aircraft weighs in at 337,840 kg.

  • [2] N. Jidejian, 'Baalbek Heliopolis, City of the Sun', Dar El-Machreq, Beirut, 1975, p. 15.

  • [3] N. Jidejian, 'Baalbek Heliopolis, City of the Sun', op. cit., p. 67.

  • [4] M. Alouf, 'History of Baalbek', 25th edition, p. 92.

  • [5] Estimate by Monsieur F. Caignart de Saulcy, cited in M. Alouf, op. cit., p. 101.

  • [6] N. Jidejian, 'Baalbek Heliopolis, City of the Sun', op. cit., p. 24.

  • [7] This factor persuaded both the French scholar Louis Felicien de Saulcy and the French archaeologist Ernest Renan that the platform walls were pre-Roman.

  • [8] Professor Daniel Krencker, German Archaeological Mission, cited in Alouf, op. cit., p. 80.

  • [9] G. Hancock, 'Fingerprints of the Gods', Mandarin, 1995, chapter 39, p. 362. Also Z. Sitchin, 'The Stairway to Heaven', Avon Books, 1980, chapter IX, p. 179.

  • [10] The Gottwald AK912 crane uses a 10.7-metre square outrigger base, a 35 metre maxiboom, a 43 metre maximast, a 117-ton upper counterweight and a 400-ton maxi-counterweight.

  • [11] A.F. Alford, 'The Phoenix Solution', Hodder & Stoughton, 1998.

  • [12] That is to say that there is no contemporary Roman inscription. There is, however, a 7th century manuscript ('Chronographia') in which John Malalas of Antioch credits the Temple of Jupiter to the Roman emperor Antonius the Pius. See M. Alouf, op. cit., p. 43.

  • [13] M. Alouf, op. cit., pp. 26-28.

  • [14] N. Jidejian, 'Baalbek Heliopolis, City of the Sun', op. cit., p. 7. Also M. Alouf, op. cit., pp. 26-28.

  • [15] M. Alouf, op. cit., p. 26.

  • [16] A. Collins 'Baalebk: Lebanon's Sacred Fortress' in New Dawn Issue Nos. 43 & 44 (1997).

  • [17] Z. Sitchin, 'The Stairway to Heaven', op. cit., chapters IX, XII.

  • [18] A.F. Alford, 'When The Gods Came Down', Hodder & Stoughton, 2000.

  • [19] D. Urquhart, The Lebanon Diary, cited in M. Alouf, op. cit., p. 26.

  • [20]M. Alouf, op. cit., p. 32.

  • [21] N. Jidejian, 'Baalbek Heliopolis, City of the Sun', op. cit., p. 17. Also M. Alouf, op. cit., pp. 35-36.

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