Baalbek, situated in the Bekka Valley in Lebanon, undoubtedly presents us with what I consider to be one of the greatest mysteries of the ancient world. It was the site of a most impressive Roman temple complex dedicated to Jupiter. However, the very name Baalbek suggests an earlier connection with the Caananite/Phoenician god Baal.
Velikovsky(i) and others have supported the idea that Baakbek was in fact the location of the biblical Dan, recorded as the most northern city of ancient Israel.
One commentator has suggested a link with Indian yogis!(t)
Although the Roman remains are still impressive, it is some blocks in the lower and presumably earlier courses(d), that have continued to stump archaeologists, three of which are of cut limestone and are estimated to weigh up to 800 tons(c). (compare with content of link(k))
An article(q) by Gian J. Quasara regarding this strange masonry is worth a read.
Even more disturbing is a block still lying in a nearby quarry, where it was cut, and which has been calculated to exceed 1000 tons and named The Stone of the Pregnant Woman. Another block, in the same quarry, was only discovered in the 1990’s and is thought to be even heavier at 1200 tons(g).
Hugh Newman, a self-described ‘megalithomaniac’(r), has produced a paper(s) on the enormous Baalbek monoliths, in which he cites Graham Hancock speculatively dating the Baalbek megaliths at 12,000 years or more old.
In March 2014, it was widely reported(e) that even heavier megaliths had been identified on Siberia’s Mount Shoria. However, the images I have seen suggest to me a natural origin(f). A short video clip is available(j).
We do not know how such huge objects were made or moved in ancient times. I often think that the bigger question is why did they bother to cut such large blocks! An online article(b) tells how the ingenuity of our ancestors produced the most powerful hand crane in history which multiplied the force of its operator 632 times. However, just because we do not yet know precisely how the Baalbek blocks were manipulated, does not justify wild claims that they were moved by high-tech Atlanteans or extraterrestrials. I may not know how stage magicians saw ladies in half, but that does not compel me to label them Atlantean or alien.
The most persistent question relating to all megalithic structures is “how did they manage to build them using such large heavy rocks and blocks”? Many ingenious solutions are on offer, but perhaps the most remarkable is that proposed by W. T. Wallington who has demonstrated that using basic materials, which were available to the Egyptians, one individual can manipulate a 4500kg stone block. His website includes a remarkable video clip of his method. A review(n) of this video is worth a read. Another or comparable technology may have been used by Edward Leedskainin when he single-handedly built Coral Castle in Florida City(o). What is certain is that Leedskainin had no help from intergalactic visitors.
December 2014 found the latest estimate for the weight of the largest dressed stone found at Baalbek calculated to be 1650 tons(h).It is clear that some explanation is required, hopefully, something better than the implication of extraterrestrial intervention. I would like to think that if we had alien visitors that their technology would be in advance of the ‘stone’ age. Surely they would have something better to produce than enormous foundation stones, which to my puny mind does not smack of the best that a civilisation capable of travelling across the cosmos would have to offer! I find the claims of Graham Hancock or Erich von Dániken equally unconvincing in this instance.
A sober well-referenced article outlining the arguments in favour of identifying the megaliths as Roman is available online(k) as well as supportive blogs from Frank Dörnenburg(m).
A UNESCO sponsored hitech survey of the Baalbek site as part of a Risk Preparedness Strategy is now proposed so that the most appropriate remedial action can be taken in the event of natural deterioration or even war damage(l).
Brian Foerster’s website(p) has some remarkable images of the Baalbek masonry.
(a) http://www.eridu.co.uk/Author/Mysteries_of_the_World/Baalbek/baalbek2.html (7 parts) (link broken June 2018) See: Archive 3414
(k) See: Archive 2653
*(s) See: Archive 3409*
Göbekli Tepe is a site in South-East Turkey, just north of the Syrian border near the town of Sanliurfa that has been excavated for the past 15 years. The work has been led by the German archaeologist, the late Klaus Schmidt, who has dated the site to 9600 BC, eerily coinciding with Plato’s apparent date for the war with Atlantis. In fairness to those who accept Plato’s date, the existence of the monuments at Göbekli Tepe at such an early date at least indicates the possibility, of Plato’s date being correct. However, I am not altogether happy with the date assigned to the site, as I cannot imagine how the stones were carved to such a high standard without metal tools, a development still some thousands of years in the future. Dating details are available online(ar).
*There is now a claim that another site, Körtik Tepe, may be even older(av), with a suggested date of 12,500 to 11,700 years ago!*
A paper by Schmidt on the development of agriculture at the time of Göbekli Tepe is freely available online(ao)
Sanliurfa mentioned above, was ancient Urfa and is suggested by David Rohl as the original Ur of the Chaldees, the birthplace of Abraham.
The site consists of megalithic stone circles with T-shaped uprights on some of which are carved a variety of animals. What is most peculiar is the fact that these monuments were completely buried after hundreds of years of use. One suggestion is that that the site is pre-diluvian and was buried by the biblical Flood!
A paper by Alastair Coombs entitled The Atlantis Twins offered further thoughts on possible prehistoric references, including a suggested link with Göbekli Tepe. This was expanded and retitled Göbekli Tepe & the Atlantis Twins and later published on Graham Hancock’s website(aq).
Schmidt ws convinced that this site marked the transition from a hunter-gatherer to an agricultural society. An interesting article is to be found in the March/April 2009 issue of Saudi Aramco World and on its website(a).
The consensus now is that Göbekli Tepe is the oldest known temple in the world, predating the temples of Malta by an astonishing 4,000-5,000 years. This, of course, is based on the dating offered by Schmidt, which may require revision. However, Adam’s Calendar(c) in Mpumalanga, South Africa, has been dated to over 70,000 BC, which, if true, would throw an even greater number of theories onto the scrapheap.
However, the idea that Göbekli Tepe is a temple site has been challenged by Professor Ted Banning at the University of Toronto, who has claimed(j) that it was ‘one of the world’s biggest garbage dumps’ suggested by the amounts of bones, tools and charcoal found there. Instead, he claims that the structures were homes, I personally find this unconvincing. Needless to say Schmidt was also unhappy with Banning’s contention and was writing a rebuttal of his claim, which I’m not sure if this was completed or published.
Readers might be interested in comparing the monuments of Gobekli Tepe with the taulas of Menorca(d)at the far end of the Mediterranean. Some of which are also to be found in clusters.
Studies have apparently confirmed astronomical alignments at these sites(i). A German site has highlighted a possible connection(ac). The most extensive publication on the subject of taulas was published in 1995 by Hochsieder & Knösel, in French.
Studies have apparently confirmed astronomical alignments at these sites(i). National Geographic magazine published a leading article on the site in June 2011, which can be read online(e). A new website devoted to Göbekli Tepe with more images is worth a visit(f). Another well illustrated site(k) has drawn attention to the possibility that the animal images at the site match constellations at the time they were carved. It will be interesting to see how this particular investigation proceeds.
Nevertheless, another temple site 30 km to the northwest, Nevali Çori(g), dated to 6,000 BC also has T-shaped pillars but in my mind it raises the question of how the same form of monument would still be in use three and a half thousand years later. I would expect some stylistic evolution unless of course the dating of the two sites should be closer.
Another large site designated as Karahan Tepe(t), which is 63 km east of Sanliurfa has hundreds of pillars, many T-shaped, but the site has yet to be excavated. Page 6 of a pdf file(h) will give you more details.*In September 2019, a start on the excavation of the site was announced(aw).*
A Norwegian website(l) has some little-seen images of the Göbekli Tepe site.
A new suggestion has now emerged linking Easter Island and the ongoing discoveries at Göbekli Tepe. This seems to date back to early 2010(m) and has now been given greater prominence in Robert Schoch’s most recent book, Forgotten Civilization. A 2013 article(n) by Schoch includes a report of a recent visit by him to the site.
In July 2013 a paper(o)(p) by Giulio Magli explores the possibility that Göbekli Tepe had been constructed to “celebrate and successively follow the appearance of a new, extremely brilliant star in the southern skies: Sirius.” Sirius is the brightest star and had significance for ancient Egyptians and Greeks and features in Robert Temple’s theory regarding the astronomical knowledge of the Dogon people of Mali.
Magli’s suggestion has been dismissed in a paper(q) by Andrew Collins and Rodney Hale, who have made the alternative proposal that if there was an intended astronomical orientation, a more likely candidate was the star Deneb in the Cygnus constellation. Collins has already explored the significance of that constellation in the ancient cultures of America, Egypt and Britain in The Cygnus Mystery. In 2014 Collins devoted an entire book to the Göbekli Tepe discoveries with the publication of Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods. In it he refers briefly to Atlantis commenting that “Plato’s account of Atlantis might well be based on some kind of historical reality” (p.168). This seems to lack the certainty he showed in his best-selling Gateway to Atlantis. Additionally, Collins has produced a 68-minute video entitled Gobekli Tepe and the Watchers of Eden, referencing his earlier work(w). A preview(y) of Genesis of the Gods has been published on a number of websites including Academia.edu and Graham Hancock.com. Collins’ book has been heavily criticised as pseudoscience(an) by at least one commentator.
Hugh Newman, author and self-confessed ‘megalithomaniac’ has now proposed links between Göbekli Tepe and ancient Peru. He has also managed to include Göbekli Tepe in his theory of earth grids(r). Another writer, Trebha Cooper, claims a link between France and Göbekli Tepe(x)!
The unexpected death of Klaus Schmidt (1953-2014) took place on Sunday July 20th 2014 and announced shortly afterwards(s).
In September 2014, archaeologists on the site were describing it as “the oldest known sculptural workshop on the planet.”(v)
The excellent The Stream of Time website from ‘antiquated antiquarian’ has a couple of well illustrated blogs relating to Göbekli Tepe(z) and the region generally.
In April 2015, the Ancient Origins website published a two-part article(ag) by Ozgür Baris Etli, a Turkish scientist,in which he discusses the most recent discoveries on the site. The article(aa)(ab) is well illustrated as the author reviews the carvings there and their possible relevance to the early development of religion. In a 2016 article(ah), on the same site, he has drawn attention to the similarity of the position of carved hands at Göbekli Tepe, Easter Island as well as number of other sites around the world where the hands are shown meeting at the navel. The significance of this, if any, is not known.
What has been identified as possibly the earliest pictograph in the world has now been revealed at the Göbekli Tepe site(ad). Andrew Collins also claims(ae) to have found the earliest depiction of Göbekli Tepe in the museum at Sanliurfa. Not unexpectedly Jason Colavito has a few words to say on the matter(af). Colavito also has a critical view(ai) of the recent Turkish documentary, supported by the government, which claims that Göbekli Tepe was built by Telah, Abraham’s father, and destroyed by Abraham. So who built Nevali Çori?
The March 2017 edition of Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry (Vol.17, No.1, pp 233-250) includes a paper(aj) by M.B. Sweatman & D. Tsikritsis of the University of Edinburgh. In it they claim that the animals carved on the Göbekli Tepe pillars represent asterisms and that they found “compelling evidence that the famous ‘Vulture Stone’ is a date stamp for 10950 BC ± 250 yrs, which corresponds closely to the proposed Younger Dryas event, estimated at 10890 BC.” Understandably, their claims have been met with stony scepticism(ak). Sweatman has expanded his ideas further in Prehistory Decoded .
In an August 2019 article on Graham Hancock’s website(at) Sweatman ventures further into the realms of wild speculation with the suggestion that Göbekli Tepe should be considered the world’s first ‘university’. This obviously had Jason Colavito spluttering into his cereal bowl, prompting him to apply his literary scalpel to the idea(au) .
Constantinos Ragazas has produced a paper(am) in which he argues against the early date ascribed to Göbekli Tepe by Schmidt and others. He ponders on “How a Date can go wrong: Were Göbekli Tepe built 600 BC by Babylonians/Assyrians, no one would flinch a thought. It is the Date that makes Göbekli Tepe an enigma. The great dilemma for archaeologists is reconciling the date with the people that built Göbekli Tepe. Either the date is wrong or our theories of prehistoric people are wrong. And prehistoric people were more capable 12,000 years ago than all our other evidence tell us. Archeologists trust their date over their understanding of prehistoric people. I argue the date is wrong. And prehistoric people were as we have always thought.” While this is controversial enough, Ragazas goes further and claims that Göbekli Tepe is in fact the site of the ‘Hanging Gardens of Babylon’!
However, Ragazas’ reservations regarding the early dating of Göbekli Tepe were given further support in an extensive 2016 paper(ap) by Dimitrios Dendrinos of the University of Kansas.
In March 2019, a paper by Roger M. Pearlman put forward another radical idea, namely, that Göbekli Tepe had been founded by Noah (Noach) and his sons(as).
*There was further excitement at Göbekli Tepe in September 2019 when Andrew Collins was removed from the site and his book, From the Ashes of Angels, banned in Turkey and Collins himself may be subject to a ban. It seems that he may have expressed pro-Kurdish sentiments, which is a big no-no with the Turkish authorities. It is also speculated that some of Collins’ historical views run counter to some extreme Islamic interpretation of the past!*