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*
Israel and the Sinai Peninsula are promoted(a) as the location of Atlantis by Jaime Manuschevich. His contention is based on what he claims were the different geographical perceptions of the Egyptians and Greeks that led to Plato misinterpreting Solon’s notes and erroneously placing Atlantis in the Atlantic Ocean. He presented his radical views to the 2005 Atlantis Conference.
More tangible but no more credible is the site of Atlit-Yam of the coast of Israel, which the media insist on referring to as “Israel’s Atlantis”.
Atlit-Yam is the name of an underwater site, 10km south of Haifa in Israel, near the present small town of Atlit in about 10 meters of water 300 meters offshore. It consists of a complex of ancient buildings and graves, which were inundated around 6000 BC. A theory has now been developed that claims that a tsunami caused by a huge eruption of Mt. Etna in 6300 BC was responsible for the demise of Atlit(b), even though it was thousands of kilometres distant. An alternative theory is that the inundation of the site was the consequence of sea levels rising as the glaciers melted following the last Ice Age. Although no connection with Atlantis has been suggested, the latter theory gives food for thought regarding the possibility of similar Mediterranean sites.
*A more extensive account of the discoveries at Atlit-Yam can be read on the Q-mag website (c)*
Nevertheless, the popular press insist on referring to the site as Israel’s ‘Atlantis’ and so a Canadian film crew visited the location to produce a documentary on the late Stone Age site to be premiered in June 2013(a).
Jaime Manuschevich of the University of Chile has recently produced a book in Spanish that places Atlantis in what are now Israel and the Sinai Peninsula. The most dramatic part of his thesis is that at the time, 9500 BC, this region was in fact an island bounded on the west by a waterway roughly following the course of today’s Suez Canal and on the east by a widened Dead Sea and Jordan River with a northern outlet to the Mediterranean. Manuschevich claims that instead of thinking in terms of Atlantis sinking into the sea we should consider the possibility that the sea sank separating the Dead Sea, Mediterranean and Red Sea resulting in earlier waterways becoming impassable to voyagers. To support his theory Manuschevich cites geological and historical evidence.
He bases his views on the generally accepted fact that the earliest civilisations were to be found in the Middle East. Manuschevich wrote a paper, outlining what he perceives are geographical errors contained in Plato’s tale, for presentation to the Melos Atlantis Conference in 2005(a).
Obsidian is a glassy rock produced as a consequence of rhyolitic volcanic eruptions. It was highly prized during the Stone Age when it was found to produce good sharp edges, suitable for tools and weapons, when fractured. Michael Grant remarked ”it is the first traded substance of which there are material remains”.
Recent excavations in Northern Israel have revealed the use of obsidian tools over six thousand years ago(e). The nearest source of obsidian was Anatolia, so these pre-Canaanite people must have had trade links that extended at least that far.
In 2011 it was reported(b) that a new technique, which permitted the dating of obsidian, revealed that the Greek island of Melos saw the mining of obsidian as early as 15,000 years ago and its exportation throughout the Aegean and beyond, which also is evidence of extensive marine travel at that early date. However, 13,000 BC saw sea levels much lower than at present, as the Ice Age glaciation was still in place. This would have led to greater land exposure in the Aegean with shorter distances between islands, which were easily crossed with relatively primitive boats.
*Massimo Rapisarda has noted that the only obsidian west of the Aegean in the Mediterranean, is to be found in the Central region on the islands of Lipari, Palmarola, Pantelleria and Sardinia(g) . A graduate thesis(f) by Barbara A. Vargo, explores in detail the characteristics, history and distribution of Pantellerian obsidian.*
Robert Ishoy who advocates a Sardinian location for Atlantis suggested(a) that obsidian, “commonly used on ancient Sardinia” was in fact the mysterious orichalcum referred to by Plato. On the other hand. Christian and Siegfried Schoppe, who support a Black Sea location also identify obsidian as orichalcum. This is quite improbable, as obsidian would not easily lend itself to being used as a wall cladding. This idea is even more impractical than Jürgen Spanuth’s proposal that orichalcum was a reference to amber. Apart from that orichalcum was described by Plato (Critias 116b-d) as a metal not rock.
Dr. Ellery Frahm at the University of Sheffield has now developed a method whereby a piece of obsidian can be traced, not only to a particular volcano, but to a specific quarry at the volcano(c).
In September 2013 Frahm revealed(d) that a new technique had been developed that permits the sourcing of obsidian artefacts in just 10 seconds.