Mystery of the Great Megaliths: Baalbek without Aliens
We don’t know a lot about the past. Often the data that have reached us are scant. And historians have to make conclusions based on circumstantial evidence. For example, there are no preserved texts describing the building of the temples in Baalbek.
There are no photos or videos of that epoch. Sometimes scientists have to speculate. But for those speculations to stay scientific, one cannot forget about some rules of scientific thinking. Rule No 1: Any statement requires evidence. I don’t think anyone will argue with that.
Rule No 2: Occam’s Razor principle. If there is a simple explanation, one shouldn’t drag in a complicated one. For example, I left a glass of water on a windowsill. A day later the water disappeared. I can surmise that the water was drunk by Martians. That’s hypothesis No 1.
Or that it evaporated. That’s hypothesis No 2. Both are theoretical since nobody knows what really happened. Right? Rule No 3: a scientific hypothesis should agree with the data theretofore accumulated by science. Let’s say, somebody is stating that ancient Romans in I c. A.D. had an excavator.
But an excavator cannot exist by itself, separated from everything else. It not only needs an internal combustion engine (or some other engine), it needs fuel. Meaning, there must be manufacture of said fuel. Somebody must be extracting fossil fuels with the use of heavy machinery. And there would be traces left from all of the listed above. Machinery needs spare parts.
To make an excavator, there needs to be a factory. Not of handicraft scale, not just a workshop, not some kind of smithy, but a large-scale manufacture. Such a kind of manufacture appeared in Europe not too long ago, as a result of the Industrial Revolution. It includes mines, factories, railroads between them, dormitories for the workers, all of that.
Throw out any of these links, and there will be no manufacture. So where are the traces? Where are the foundations of the factory buildings? Where is the waste, mountains of slag, since there are quarries, smithies and mines? There are burials containing ceramics, iron tools, ornaments. Dwellings, furnaces, mills, livestock enclosures.
Theatres and temples, after all! And where is the mechanized production? “The historians are hiding”? But why then weren’t the results of activities of this civilization, the ancient buildings, hidden along with traces of factories? Well, maybe then the manufacture was done on another planet? Okay. Then why would aliens from a supercivilization build walls of large rocks? Even the humanity in the XX c., before the space flights, switched to different principles of construction. The Baikonur Cosmodrome wasn’t built with limestone blocks. Why? There are more effective means of construction. Just think about it.
Well, that was a prelude. Our dream has come true! The editors of ANTROPOGENEZ.RU came to Baalbek. A small town in the mountains of Lebanon, known for grandiose ancient temples. In one of the previous videos we’ve already shown a live transmission fragment, and now I want to talk about what is known to scientists about the construction of the ancient structures in Baalbek. And about what is only in the stage of hypotheses.
If you search YouTube for “Baalbek”, you will see a lot of videos with screaming titles. "Mysterious", "enigmatic", "incredible"... "Built by giants!" I like one of the titles especially: “Historians are PROHIBITED from visiting there”. It seems, somebody forgot to tell all the scientists that come there – the German, French expeditions - that they are prohibited from coming. Archaeologists continue to work in Baalbek even in the XXI c. You can also learn from YouTube videos that the same archaeologists hide the results of excavations.
Having rummaged in archaeologists’ publications (and there are rather a lot about Baalbek), I seem to understand what they have chosen as a means to hide their discoveries. You know what? Publishing in French! The best means of hiding something from a Russian is an article in French! Luckily, my wife knows French, so it’s hidden from me but not my wife. Visiting the temple complex strongly impressed us despite the Temple of Jupiter being wrapped in restoration scaffolding.
Nevertheless, the magnificence of the structures shakes one as much as it did the XIX c. travelers, as it shook Kaiser Wilhelm II who was the first to order an excavation here. But the supporters of the “alternative history” are not ravished by the beauty of the porticos and columns. The Trilithon attracts by far more attention. Three huge stone blocks, each over 19 m (61.3 ft) long, over 4 m (12.9 ft) high and almost 4 m (12.9 ft) wide. Each weighs 800 tons
And at the same time they are at the height of 7 m (22.5 ft). The Trilithon is a part of the enormous unfinished podium surrounding the Temple of Jupiter. Other blocks of the podium are also very large, sometimes weighing no less than 350 tons, and in the row under the Trilithon up to 500 tons. The splendid columns of the Temple of Jupiter are rarer in the sensational YouTube videos. And yet they are 19 m (61.3) long,
the outermost ones being single pieces and weighing 135 tons each. And for some reason the Temple of Bacchus is deprived of its share of attention. The temple which, quoting a pseudoscientific website, “was clearly built later and is of no interest”. There is a low-key detail about the temple: the large entrance into the temple and the three-block cover over it. The keystone weighing 20 tons, and 2 counter keystones weighing 50 tons each, all of this at the height of 13 m (41.3 ft).
And this construction endured several earthquakes as far as Antiquity. The keystone, indeed, slipped down but did not fall out. One can see it in photographs from the beginning of the XX c. German restorators first propped it up with a brick column and then put in back into place.
So why are these details neglected in the parascientific circles? Perhaps because it is obvious even to the “alternative historians” (except for the most insane ones) that the temple was built by the citizens of the Roman Empire, and not the Atlanteans or the Annunaki. Let’s assume that the temples were built by the Romans but not in the middle of nowhere but on top of more ancient cyclopical structures. The megalithic podium is almost like an antediluvian cosmodrome that stood there for millennia until it became a foundation for the temples. Erich von Däniken in his “Chariots of the Gods?” wrote: “[...] lies a platform of stone blocks, some of which have sides more than 65 feet long and weigh nearly 2,000 tons”
Von Däniken, in a manner peculiar to him, very slightly (by 2.5 times) exaggerated the weight of the blocks. “Until now archaeologists have not been able to give a convincing explanation why, how and by whom the terrace of Baalbek was built. However, Russian professor Agrest considers it possible is the remains of a gigantic airfield” Well, let’s examine the construction timeline. Archaeologists and historians know perfectly well that this place has a long and complicated history starting in the Neolithic, and that the ancient temples in Baalbek had predecessors The irony is that the megalithic podium, evidently, appeared here not earlier but later than some of the structures of Baalbek, exactly during the Roman era.
How is that known? In fact, there are two podiums. The Temple of Jupiter, of which there are only six column left, is located on the inner podium. But the second, and outer, podium is the one that contains the megaliths and surrounds the inner terrace at some distance.
So what was first? The inner structure or the outer one? Let us suppose that somebody built this outer podium first. But then it would become weird, truly. There we have an unfinished podium, but we won’t use or finish it but we will build inside of it another one, with a gap between them. What would that be for? That would be illogical. Rather, the reverse sequence appears more likely.
First, the inner podium was built, and the outer one was erected during the second phase of construction. Excavations and analysis of the structure showed that at some point the inner podium was T-shaped with wings running out on the eastern side which were later disassembled. And in the places where those wings once were, the outer side of the podium, otherwise very neat, facade-shaped, becomes irregular, with the blocks roughly hewn. It is likely that the plan was to build a temple on this early podium which then was either not built at all or fully dismantled, as there is no preserved evidence. But when was that inner podium erected? 10,000 years ago, maybe 20,000? Specialists’ estimates are rather humbler: I c. B.C., Herod the Great’s epoch.
The case is point is the Second Temple in Jerusalem, very similarly put together. According to written sources, the construction of the Second Temple, or, rather, a scaled-up upgrade conceived by Herod the Great, was happening at the turn of the century. It started around 20 B. C.
The Romans who took Jerusalem back after the revolt in Judea in 70 A. D., turned the city into ruins, and demolished the recently finished temple. Only the Western wall of the foundation has been preserved, of the Wailing Wall fame. Architecture specialists Andreas Kropp and Daniel Lohmann mention the striking similarity between the inner podium in Baalbek and the Western wall in Jerusalem This is a distinctive style, the so-called rustication, when the facade part of the block is roughly chiseled but the surface along the perimeter, 5-10 cm (2-4 in) wide, is smoothed out As a result, the central part of the block protrudes, the wall relief is raised and the joints are more precise.
But it’s not just the style, even the block sizes are alike. The average row height is 1.11 m (43.7 in), and that in some parts of the wall an alternation of rows of short and long blocks is implemented. This Herodian laying style is met not only in Jerusalem but also in other places where Herod’s contribution is evident, for example, in Hebron, in the so-called Cave of the Patriarchs. But the temple in Jerusalem and Baalbek, nonetheless, stay apart. Only in those two the rusticated laying technique was used for the foundation, the podium.
It is unusual and confirms the close connection between the two projects. Historians suppose that, possibly, the same team of specialists may have been at work in both cases. Herod, known not only as a cruel tyrant but also as a king, a builder, and a Maecenas, he strived to strengthen his position and secure Roman support, so he generously sponsored projects on Roman territories.
There is written evidence for that. His contributions include the wealthy Roman colony in Beirut. It was a period of large-scale construction activities. The construction was under way in Jerusalem, Petra, Damascus, Palmira.
The construction was stimulated by ambitions of the local rulers who strived to outdo one another. In 15 B.C. the Beqaa Valley became a part of the Roman colony. It is believed that that is when the big construction started in Heliopolis. Yes, Heliopolis, the City of the Sun, is the same thing as Baalbek. The project may have been initiated by some local ruler, but Herod provided the “technical support” of his specialists. That is when, perhaps, the first podium was being built.
But for some reason the construction was discontinued. Perhaps, they have run out of money? It resumed again in I c. A.D., when the new builders made changes to the project. The terrace already built was not small - 95 m (306 ft) long But it was decided to encircle it with a more imposing podium upon which the grandiose Temple of Jupiter would be erected.
You ask: how is it known that the megalithic podium and the Temple of Jupiter were being built simultaneously? Here’s how: during the excavations in 1969 the lower level of the blocks, under the Trilithon, was cleaned off. It turns out that a chunk of a column was used instead of one of the blocks, of the same size as in the columns of the Temple of Jupiter But this chunk is under the Trilithon, it could only end up there before the huge blocks were put in place. That means that when the podium was being built, the columns for the Temple of Jupiter were being cut in the quarries.
Secondly, archaeologists discovered a blueprint on the top surface of the southernmost block of the Trilithon. This is the full-scale drawing of a part of the pediment of the Temple of Jupiter. The blueprint covers the whole top of the megalith and is partly concealed by the blocks covering it. Nowadays it is not very well visible because of maintenance work, but if one looks closely, one can see a part of it in the photo. And here is the enveloping of the blueprint made by Haroutune Kalayan.
And this is not the only drawing. There are at least 7 similar blueprints on the territory of the Baalbek temple complex. Evidently, the Roman architects used this method for construction planning. The builders drew the blueprint in the immediate proximity of the structure itself, most likely, to check with it. So it looks like the Trilithon was being built at the same time as the Temple of Jupiter above it. Finally, on the upper part of the upper drum of one of the columns of the Temple of Jupiter a negligent inscription was found, cut, perhaps, by a mason.
The inscription, written in Greek and mentioning the festival of Aphrodite, contains a date that indicates that the inscription was made on the 2nd of August of the year 371 of the Seleucid era. Look, “etous” means “year”, and this is the date: alpha omicron tau. “Alpha” means “one”, “omicron” - “seventy”, “tau” - “three hundred”. Three hundred seventy one. The Seleucid era started with the beginning of rule of Seleucus I Nicator, from 312 B.C.
So what we get is that year 371 of the Seleucid era is the year 60 A.D. If the inscription was made during construction, then we have a date for the construction. There is an argument that the inscription was written during construction and not after it: there is an orifice in the butt-end of the column for a lead rod used to pin together the column drums. And this orifice is broken through the inscription, rendering some of the words unreadable. You can ask: why is it in Greek? Heliopolis was a part of a Roman colony! However, Syria was an ellinized part of the Roman Empire, and long after preserved the influence of the Greek culture.
Here Greek was spoken and written, Greek gods worshipped. Thus the language of the inscription was also Greek, and so was the chronology used. And Heliopolis means “the city of the sun” in Greek. And the builders in Baalbek were citizens of the Roman Empire but were not Romans, for the most part they were, likely, locals, Syrians. Aaron Adair, a skepticist, argues that the grandiose construction in Heliopolis, was not likely to have transpired before the turn of the era.
The point is that in ancient written sources the city is not mentioned, neither in Assyrian texts starting in IX c B.C., nor during the epochs of Babylonian or Persian dominance. The ancient geographer Strabo in I c. B.C. wrote about the territory of the Beqaa Valley, describing the local farmers with no mention of monumental structures.
Did the geographers see the enormous boulders but for some reason did not mention them? Unlikely. Thus we have all the grounds to argue that the first, the inner podium was built during Herod’s rule, during the last decade B.C. And that the second megalithic podium and the Temple of Jupiter were built in I c. A. D. Alas, this construction remained unfinished also.
It was interrupted for decades, started again, the project was altered multiple times. The podium was not finished, instead two courtyards were unfolded before it, surrounded by walls. More than 180 pink and grey marble columns were delivered from Egypt for the grandiose project in Heliopolis.
The Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek was erected in II c. A. D. A little bit later - the Temple of Venus. At the end of II c. A.D. the Temple of Jupiter appears on Roman coins.
One more inscription found inside the Temple of Jupiter tells us that the propylon, the front entrance to the temple complex, was erected in the name of Emperor Caracalla, and that is the beginning of the III c. A.D. Thus the construction took up more than two centuries. There are other inscriptions in Baalbek: signs (or emblems) were found on some elements of the Great Courtyard of Baalbek, different in the northern and southern parts.
In the northern part it’s two E’s, at an angle, found on stones and columns. The same were found in the quarry. In the southern part of the courtyard the letters are MER, sometimes reversed right to left. It seems the builders were Semites, accustomed to writing right to left.
Archaeologist Harotune Kalayan supposes that these are emblems of different builder teams. And at that. not all stones were marked but only the ones with defects. It was the sign of the examining officer, meaning “redo”. What do you think that tells us? It tells me that no super technologies were used during construction. It were the most usual people working here who let defective products to appear, and therefore they needed to be supervised.
The second point of interest is the unfinishedness of the construction that lets us make conclusions about the sequence of operations. We see that the podium blocks were roughly hewn in quarries, then installed and only afterwards trimmed, straightened out, aligned with one another. This work was not fully finished, that is why we can see the different stages of megalith processing.
This is very well visible from both the northern and the western side of the podium. What kind of aliens are these, leaving a job halfway done?! By the way, it is not the just the podium that is unfinished, the bases of many columns in the Temple of Jupiter are also incomplete, look. Architect Maxim Atayants surmises that the temple itself was not completed. Besides the temples, we visited the Roman quarries, located 800 m (0.5 mi) southwest of the temple complex.
You can get coffee and for free observe the famous Stone of the Pregnant Woman. Until recently it was considered the largest single stone block hewn by ancient humans, its weight being around 1,000 tons. On the top edge of the megalith, amidst modern graffiti, there is an ancient inscription.
But it is not well preserved and could not be deciphered. In the 1970s, during excavation work in a different area of the quarries, another megalith was found, an even larger one. The Stone of the West weighs 1,200 tons.
Unfortunately, nowadays this part of the quarry has been turned into a garbage dump by the locals. Finally, in 2014 during excavation work next to the Stone of the Pregnant Woman another block was found, estimated at about 1,600 tons. And this is the largest single stone block in the world, comparable to the Thunder Stone in St Petersburg.
Admittedly, the Thunder Stone was delivered to the location of installation many kilometers away. The Baalbek megalith stayed in the quarry. Specialists speculate about the places these megaliths would take in the structures that were being erected. Judging by their sizes, they were meant to be in the podium next to the Trilithon.
Moreover, to fill all the space around the temple, the podium would require 10 more blocks like the ones in the Trilithon, Daniel Lohmann suggests. The biggest block of them all, judging by its size, was meant to be placed in the row above the Trilithon. Lohmann bases his speculations on the basis that after the construction was finished, the resulting structure would be the canonical Roman podium. In the lower row the surface is angled at 52 degrees, therefore in the upper row there must be a reverse incline so that the row is hanging above the Trilithon and should thus be wider. Take a look at the podium of the Temple of Bacchus or the podium of the propylon, and you will see the same picture, on a smaller scale.
To fill the perimeter of the podium around the temple there should have been 14 blocks, 14 blocks of 1,500 tons apiece. I would like to see that! Evidently, the man-hours needed for this madness were too many even for the aliens. Somebody changed the project, and the megalithic construction ended. Now about the tool traces: on some blocks of the podium and the megaliths in the quarries there are characteristic traces - long curved grooves.
A jackhammer? Or maybe an excavator? Maybe. But it seems that these traces are too much like traces left in quarries in the not too distant past. Here is, for example, an area of a quarry near Bern in Switzerland, XIX c.,
where the usual hand tools were applied - the pick and the chisel. Take a closer look: it is clear that in both places the traces are not quite parallel - they are of different length, in some places they converge. This characterizes manual, and not mechanized, labor. To confirm that I asked a French archaeologist, Jean-Claude Bessac. He is a specialist on ancient tools for working on stone, himself a hereditary stonemason and the author of many works dedicated to the topic.
According to him, the traces on the blocks in Baalbek were left with pickaxes, he even sent an image of such a tool. One can be confused by the length of the trace, but one should not confuse the length of the trace with the length of the working body of the tool. In this case it is the trace a pickaxe left after striking the wall of the trench.
That is, the mason was striking, bit by bit getting deeper into the stone, and the trace was getting longer. My colleagues are of a different opinion. In fact, on the Stone of the South the traces start right next to the lower edge of the megalith, and if one was working with a pickaxe, it is not clear whether there is room for the swing of the tool.
Creator of the forum “What the Ancients Could” Oleg Kruglyakov and geologist Pavel Selivanov suppose that the work was performed with a chisel and a hammer. The master would chisel out grooves and then chop off the stone between them. And the curve of the grooves is connected with the convenience of the placement of the tool. In the upper part the blows would be struck upwards, and beneath they would be struck downwards at an angle. Pavel Selivanov. Geologist, PhD candidate at the Institute of Geology of Ore Deposits, Petrography, Mineralogy and Geochemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences Archaeologists speculate that the work was performed with pickaxes but the question arises how one could swing the tool in such a low niche? That’s quite problematic, therefore, a different speculation was born that it was done with a chisel.
Now we want to test this hypothesis. Here I am standing next to a niche, here it is indeed almost as high as a person but here we also have a homogenous layer of limestone, and we’ll assume that here is where the niche starts. Unfortunately, we could not find a more appropriate location. I’ll try not to go outside that border with the tool. If we imagine working with a pickaxe, the swing is not too wide, and the power of the pickaxe is in the swing.
Now I’ll try a chisel. How would I do it? Assuming that I need to take off layer after layer, I would chisel out grooves, relatively parallel to one another, and chip off the rock between them to minimize the actual chiseling. But here a question arises: let’s say, here I can squat and lay a groove. Can’t say it’s going very easy, the rock in this layer is rather solid. Taking everything into account, in Baalbek the layers are softer.
I can lay a groove like this down to the very bottom, and it will be relatively straight, but I won’t be able to strike the upper part in the same way. Because I’m right-handed, I have to turn around and drive the chisel in this direction. Let’s try what I can get out of it. Now let’s lay another groove.
I reached a cavity here, and one can notice that the groove is not equally well chiseled because the wall is originally not straight, and in some places one needs to chisel out a lot of the rock, and in some one doesn’t. When the surface is smoothed out, it can and needs to be chiseled out as a single layer. Let's start the second groove So we have two distinctive-looking grooves.
They may be homely, but we are but demonstrating the principle. They are parallel in the lower part, going down at the same angle, and in the upper part they take a curve and become almost vertical. That is conditioned, in my case, by the convenience of posture. One more item: in Baalbek in the lower part the grooves are noticeably flattened.
At first I thought that that was conditioned by lithological heterogenousness of the rock, and maybe they were trying to circumvent that by chiseling at a different angle, but now I realize that it could be unrelated: while bending like that, it is not very convenient to lay straight grooves, I’d rather bend like so and lay the groove almost horizontally or at a slight angle with flattening it. Now for the last touch – we need to chip off the rock between the grooves, which should be pretty easy. It gets chipped off perfectly fine, decreasing the man-hours. It is more convenient to chip it off than to turn it into dust.
Further on, I would use the same grooves, since they are already outlined. Deepen the groove, chip the rock off, and thusly till the victorious end. Just like that. I’ll add that these traces exist not only on the base of the Stone of the Pregnant Woman but also on the Stone itself. After the cutting the surfaces of the block were smoothed out on three sides, but on one of the sides, the northwestern one, the work was not finished, and it has the same grooves. The marking line, up to which the surface would have been smoothed out, is clearly visible on the top surface, And if somebody forgot their school course of history, iron was widely used in ancient Rome.
There is also a different category of traces on the megaliths of the podium: multiple parallel grooves, met, for example, on the facets forming the joints between the blocks. What kind of tool leaves traces like that? Perhaps it is a toothed chisel, with 3, 8 or 10 teeth leaving parallel traces. I have this toothed chisel, I’m holding it for the first time. A toothed chisel, with teeth, and here is a dolomite quarry with some parallel traces left by some Martians (and not me, of course), and I’ll try to copy them. Judging by the traces in Baalbek, a similar tool was used. No metaphysics involved.
Or at least the traces are very similar. A lot of questions arise because of the orifices in the blocks. In some of the megaliths there are multiple orifices like that. Archaeologist Jean-Pierre Adam suggested that that is where rope fasteners were for mechanical devices used by the Romans – hoists or winches.
As multiple ropes were needed to manipulate the block (one would just snap), so multiple orifices for the ropes were needed also. This is countered by the fact that orifices like those are also present in unfinished blocks in the quarries, and even in the walls of those. Archaeologist Jeanine Abdul Massih who led the 2014 excavations in Baalbek leans toward stating that the orifices served not only for ropes used during transporting the blocks but also the ropes supporting the blocks during the cutting stage.
And Oleg Kruglyakov suggested that the orifices were made in order to support the stonemason’s scaffolding. One more thing: why was this exact location chosen for cutting the megaliths? It seems that it was possible to pick a more convenient spot for the blocks. No, it was not. Because for a big block one needs a large chunk of good-quality limestone, a homogenous one. Limestone tends to consist of layers, and the ancient stonemasons used this natural stratification. In fact, they disassembled the limestone layer by layer, in that case it is easier to separate from the basis.
But to achieve a certain size for the block, a layer of certain thickness is required. In the Baalbek quarry, where the blocks were cut in steps off the slopes, the upper layers are 1-2 m (3.2-6.5 ft) thick. The medium-sized blocks were cut out of those layers. A larger-sized block cannot be cut from there – it would fall apart. A big limestone body is located further down – slightly more than 4 m (12.9 ft) thick.
Notice that the height of the Trilithon and the Stone of the Pregnant Woman are approximately the same as the thickness of that layer. So it is obvious that the ancient stonemason were using the natural structure of the stone, following the layer. An interesting detail: a fairly straight crack is visible under the megalith.
How was it left, sawed, cut with a laser? Geologist Pavel Selivanov supposed that the crack is of a natural origin, it is a consequence of the stone body heterogeneity between layers. Until the block was cut, it could have stayed invisible since it’s just a difference in the density of limestone and the rock is easy to cut around there. And when the rock was bared under the influence of external factors such as difference in humidity, temperature, the crack became visible.
During the research of the Stone of the Pregnant Woman, the reason why it was left became clear: there appeared a cavity and more cracks in the northwestern corner of the stone. Because of this defect, the block was left behind, and the second megalith located next to this one but lower, was being cut at slight angle to the first one, leaning a few degrees due north. Perhaps, this is how they were trying to circumnavigate the dangerous zone.
Is working on limestone difficult? I purposefully picked up a stone in the quarry and struck another one with it a few times – and shards started flying immediately. In my opinion, cutting the block was not a problem at all. Delivering it was a different thing. The works of ancient architects have reached us, the most renown of them being Vitruvius’s ten books on architecture. We know that the Romans were actively using mechanical devices during construction – winches, blocks, cranes. The largest crane that used a drum of a hamster wheel type with people inside, allowed lifting up to ten tons.
Reliefs are known containing images of such mechanisms, for example, in the Mausoleum of Haterrii (beginning of II c. A.D.), now located in Vatican. Jean-Pierre Adam speculates that the Romans could use several such cranes at the same time, lifting dozens of tons. The ancients knew that by using the rule of the lever, one can multiply the force while losing in distance that the workers walk while turning the winch. And they also knew that rolling friction is less than sliding friction. This is the principle used in transporting huge weights over wooden rollers. Such a method was used starting in deep antiquity, evidence suggests.
By the way, the only modern society that still practices megalithic burials, on the island Sumba in Indonesia, uses the same transporting technique. One can find videos where people who have gathered together pull a stone weighing no less than 10 tons over wooden rollers relatively fast. The images of winches used to transport large cargos are also known to us. I have already mentioned one of the examples – the Obelisk of Theodosius in Istanbul, also known as the Obelisk of Thutmos III.
This Egyptian monument was transported from Karnak to Costantinople, over 2,000 km (~1235 mi) away, in the IV c A. D. The Obelisk or, rather, a 280-ton part of it, was installed on a marble pedestal, as part of the barrier in the center of the Hippodrome of Constantinople, where it still stands. One can see the scene about the transporting on the marble pedestal: the obelisk is flat on the ground in front of the column of the Hippodrome, and the workers are pulling it with the help of winches. So we know that the Romans had heavy machinery allowing them to move cargos weighing hundreds of tons and lifting cargos weighing dozens of tons. But how did they lift an 800-tons block to the height of 7 m (22.5 ft)?
The thing is that they most likely did not have to. The quarry is at the same height as the temple complex is. Physicist and skepticist Aaron Adair bases his opinion on the topographical map of the US Navy which shows that the quarry is located slightly higher than the Temple of Jupiter.
Google Earth provides opposite data – according to it, the Stone of the Pregnant Woman is about 6 m (19.3 ft) lower. Plus one needs to add the 7 m (22.5 ft) at the height of which the Trilithon is located. In any case, if a long embankment is made for the installation of the megalith, for an embankment 800 m (2,580 ft) long the angle of ascent will be tiny, around 1 degree.
The location of the megalith is, in fact, in a pit. And the question whether the stone would have needed to be pulled out is reasonable. But one should not forget that the landscape has changed over the past 2,000 years. In particular, the earth level rose. It is evidential enough to just look at old photos of the temples to see that thanks to archaeologists’ efforts the temple was digged out of about 6 m (19.3 ft) of soil.
So the pit in which the megalith is now is also the archaeologists’ doing. To the south is quarry is surrounded by cliffs but in the direction of the temple complex, to the northeast, there are no cliffs. Now there are houses there but at some point the road must have led to the construction site. Jean-Pierre Adam calculated, using the data about winches used during the transportation of the Thunder Stone in St Petersburg, that 6 of said winches operated by 24 people each, would be more than enough to transport a block weighing 800 tons over wooden rollers on a good Roman road. So for the whole process a total of 144 people is required.
Indeed, first the block would be turned to face the construction site, around 90 degrees. Right now the Stone of the South is perpendicular to that direction. You need factual evidence that this all is possible? Experiments on transporting large cargos with the help of mechanical force have been conducted multiple times.
They were organized by Thor Heyerdahl on Easter Island, by Richard Atkinson in Stonehenge in the middle of the XX c. In 1996 a group of 100 people pulled a 45-ton stone for 18 miles for a BBC movie without any winches, simply over guide rails lubricated with fat. The famous Wally Wallington from Michigan moved a 20-ton shed by himself. But the most extraordinary example, documented in filmed chronicles, is the transportation of Mussolini’s Obelisk from the quarry in the Apuan Alpes in 1928. The 300-ton chunk of marble was put inside a wooden case (weighing additional 50 tons).
36 pairs of bullocks pulled it along wooden rails lubricated with soap for 11 km (6.8 mi) to the haven. I can foresee counterarguments: 350 tons is not the same as 800 tons. But 11 km (6.8 mi) is not the same as 800 m (2,580 ft). Let’s remember that the 1,500-ton Thunder Stone in 1769 was transported over 8 km (4.9 mi) to the shore of the Gulf of Finland with the help of winches. Yes, moving a cargo like that was a most complicated operation, but as we can see, still quite possible. It seems to me, the most difficult part was not the cutting of the stone and nor the transportation but rather the installation of it and the adjustment of the blocks to each other.
Quite frequently the tales of “ideal joints where even a blade will not fit” turn out to be exaggerated. But in this case I can confirm: the vertical joints of the blocks are really fitted very well, and in some cases not even visible right away. As we have mentioned before, this adjustment was performed on location, after the installation, but how? The main difficulty is that, in theory, the blocks would need to be pulled together, the irregularities marked, the blocks pulled apart, smoothed out and pulled together again. That would include moving about an enormous megalith that had already been taken off wooden rollers, so that the force of friction would have increased dramatically.
Jean-Pierre Adam thinks that the builders might have used liquid clay to decrease the friction. And nonetheless, the number of people and winches required to manipulate the megalith at the stage increased significantly. Architecture historian Friedrich Ragette thinks that the block would need to be slightly lifted, at least to take the rollers out from underneath it. In his opinion, a structure with multiple winches, ropes and iron anchors for the top surface of the block was used for that.
By the way, archaeologists found several such anchors – usual devices for antiquity. Each anchor can sustain the pressure from the weight of up 5 tons, so one would need at least 160 of such orifices to lift an 800-ton block – 8 orifices per every meter (3.2 ft) of length. A part of one of the megaliths is visible from above, with easily noticeable orifices, but it is an open question about how many there are. And this is what the above mentioned Oleg Kruglyakov thinks about the lifting of blocks: perhaps, the so-called grinding by sawing was applied. That is, when two roughly shaped surfaces are put face to face and the joint is sawed top to bottom.
The saw goes down easily enough – it does not really need to saw through stone, it slips through the crack and saws off the small imperfections with its teeth. That way one would get a good quality crack with flatish walls. After this sawing the blocks are pulled together to form a joint. Maybe it was done several times if needed: sawed through and pulled together, sawed through again and pulled together again. This, it is likely, was also done to the stones of the outer layer of the pyramids and the blocks of the basalt floors in Egypt.
There exist photos from Egypt where the traces of such sawing are visible on the surfaces underlying the joined blocks. Even with such a method involved the block would still need to be moved around during installation but on a smaller scale. Indeed, for such an operation one would need a large steel saw, since the width of the face of the block is more than 3 m (9.7 ft). Experimentalist Nikolai Vasyutin thinks that it was not necessary for the builders to join the whole faces of the blocks: it would be enough to make small ledges along the perimeter of the block so that the center of the face of the block is located in a cavity – that would lead to smaller sawing lengths. Architect Maxim Atayants suggested possible use of a rope with an abrasive material instead of a saw – such a method is known from antiquity. He also points out that a multiplicity of ancient temples (and there thousands of them) have blocks that are noticeably well-fitted, so this is not a unique trait for the structures of Baalbek.
Complicated? Yes. But does this serve as evidence for alien technologies? When one has supertechnologies, there is no need for finishing off roughly shaped blocks and trying to fit them to each other after installation. There is no need for being so specific about the location for cutting the block. A technologically advanced civilization does not depend so vastly on the quality of the raw material since it produces the building materials itself. All these are just consequences of imperfect technologies, specifically, stonemasonry.
The facets on the joint edges are another interesting thing: what are those for? Perhaps, they served some purpose of making the joining easier, to make the joint more visible. In that case they would be worked on before the joining the blocks. If somebody doubts that these can be made manually, watch these two videos by stonemason Ray Sumner. In the first video Ray shows how to make a smooth facet on a stone block with a set of chisels. And in the second one he made a curvilinear relief. In addition to the chisel set he used a saw and some abrasive material.
One more difficult question: how does one smooth out the lower surface of a block, how does one get to it since the wooden rollers are in the way? One option would be to dig a pit like a car mechanic’s and drag the block over it while the workers in the pit are smoothing out the surface above their heads. But it that case there should be a gap between the rollers. Not too convenient.
Or, and this is Oleg Kruglyakov’s idea, turn the block over on its side so that its side would become its bottom which would also require a technical solution. But if somebody managed to move a block 800 m (2,580 ft), flipping it onto a side would not be a problem for them. We have discussed the possibility of the construction, but the goal of it is no less important. Moreover, it would be strange than in Heliopolis, a Roman colony, the Roman temples are more grandiose than in Rome itself.
I like this analogy here: nobody in Russia is surprised by “The Motherland Calls” statue, 85 m (274 ft) high, one of the largest statues in the world, standing in Volgograd (former Stalingrad) and rather than Moscow. Or otherwise let’s suggest that this is a statue of a gigantic Amazonian that has been there since time immemorial! You can guess that a more prosaic explanation can easily be found. We can not know the reason why the megalithic construction was happening in Baalbek and not in Rome, although Rome, of course, was not build from sticks either: the Roman Pantheon has 16 monolithic granite columns, each weighing 60 tons. And those were brought not from 800 m (2,580 ft) away but rather from Egypt, a couple of thousand kilometers away.
And still, specialists discuss the reasons behind the megalithic construction in Baalbek. What’s the influence? The Eastern Phoenician tradition? Or a good location selection? Baalbek is conveniently located next to a source of great quality limestone – short distance to the construction site and good stone structure, that is what allowed to cut the huge blocks. By the way, the same picture is present in Jerusalem – the limestone was provided by quarries very close to the construction site. One of the quarries was found right next to the northwestern corner of the wall. The same goes for the Syrian monument Hosn Suleiman where the quarries are less than 100 m (320 ft) away.
Bessac thinks that that is one of the main conditions for serial megalithic construction, when the topic of discussion is not just one or several large blocks but rather a multiplicity of them. One would have to find huge and very homogenous layers of the building material without any cracks in direct proximity of the monument. The stone itself should be of a very good quality as a screwed-up megalith is a very real and unpleasant hazard.
As examples, the cracked obelisk in Aswan, or the Stone of the Pregnant Woman itself. There are not too many places that satisfy these conditions, and that may partly explain the absence of similar projects in Rome, since in Rome travertine and tuff were the main building materials, soft stones that are easy to extract from the ground but are unfit for megalithic construction. But even so, why build from enormous stones when one can do the same with small ones.
The first idea that comes to mind is for the effect of it, to impress the temple visitors, to show the magnificence and power. While comparing the size of the blocks to one’s height and thinking about the enormous power needed to move the blocks, the visitor would quiver. For just another believer the moving of such masses would be beyond imagination, beyond their personal experience. And they would believe that it is impossible without divine intervention. Lohmann notes that in the podium in Baalbek the size of the blocks increases the higher the row is.
And now, 2,000 years later, the effect is still achieved: we hear “Baalbek was clearly built by gods”. Yes, indeed, that is what the builders strived to achieve! But not all researchers find this explanation satisfying. Bessac, for example, states that a megalithic podium is not the best method of impressing someone since when one enters a temple, one does not see the podium.
Furthermore, after the construction is finished, all of that would be covered in stucco and paint which would hide the seams, so differentiating the scale of the blocks visually would be impossible. Bessac names two other possible reasons. First, seismic performance. This is an unstable region with a fair amount of earthquakes, and the ancient builders knew that well. One of the methods of resisting demolition consists of using massive blocks which would provide great seismic performance of the structure with their weight. In 2,000 years there have been plenty of earthquakes – quakes are known to have happened in VI c., XII c. and XVIII c. A. D.
Nonetheless, the monument did not completely fall apart, a lot of it sustained the damage, so the structure has warranted its right to exist. Finally, there is the economical part: Bessac shows that using a myriad little blocks instead of one large one would increase the number or quarry trenches and surfaces that would need working on by an order. A lot of material would be wasted, the trenches between blocks would need to be 50-70 cm (20-28 in) wide, and moreover, the small blocks would need extra cutting to fit them together. Indeed, the work is not finished at that since to transport a large block one needs to build a big ramp, install the winches etc.
Nevertheless, with well-organized management by qualified specialists a megalithic construction may turn out to be more lucrative considering the number of personnel required and materials used compared to a construction process where small blocks are applied. What else is known to archaeologists? In the eastern part of the quarry where the Stone of the South is located one can see artificially made caves, perhaps used to live in or for storage space. Excavations inside one of them led the archaeologists to the thought that a smithy was located there. The remainders of a furnace, a lot of coal, pottery shards and iron slag were found in the deposits.
And I would like to notice, no microchips or even spare parts for an excavator were found. The authors of the 2015 article write about a possible trace of a winch working but do not go into details. What is missing? In my mind, there aren’t enough large scale experiments like the transportation of a megalith or fitting two blocks to each other.
We would love to try out something like this and maybe, sooner or later, it will become possible. Will the structures in Baalbek become less majestic if we acknowledge that they were built by men and not gods? Of course not. We admire the Baalbek builders’ engineering genius, their volition and their firmness of purpose.
Was doing this extremely difficult? Yes, there is no place for an argument there. But a modern spoilt inner city dweller has some trouble imagining themselves as an ancient builder. Is there still room for riddles, hypotheses, and scientific debates? Oh, plenty enough! I have listed only some unsolved problems, but in search of answers let’s not multiply entities. Do you disagree with me? Okay, that’s perfectly fine. Do argue but give something more than just emotions as an example.
Do you think that the evidence we have is not enough? That there are not enough archaeological findings and the interpretations are too frivolous? That historical examples and experiments do not prove anything? Perhaps it is so, and here is the question in that case: what findings, what facts can you provide that counter what I have told you about? If you think that the logs will not hold the weight, the ropes would snap, or that so many people will not fit onto the construction site, show us how you calculated that If you think that the traces were left not with a pickaxe or a chisel but rather with a jackhammer, an excavator or a plasma saw, do give us examples of such traces. Cannot find appropriate ones? Do an experiment, since archaeologists have been doing that for long, and even I managed to do something. Engage specialists, but a modern engineer will probably be of little help since they would not have been taught how to work with a pickaxe or a manual winch.
And enough of retelling von Däniken and Sitchin! Enough of showing the same pictures from the Internet! Start thinking with your own head! I thank Alexei Schedrik and Alexei Travnikov for the help with the experiments, «Science Video Lab» for the help with the camera work, the staff from SciTeam for the help with the camera work in the quarry near Moscow. The link to the list of literature used is in the description of the video, you can read through it carefully although to get acquainted with some of the articles you will need to learn French. The story was narrated by Aleksandr Sokolov, may the force of true science be with us!