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.
Peter Mungo Jupp has suggested that the original temple at Baalbek had involved Holy Prostitution in the service of Baal(z), while another commentator has even 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 the content of the link(k))
An article(q) by Gian J. Quasar 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).
In 1997, Andrew Collins ventured to suggest that Baalbek because of its high elevation “hints at the fact that it once served as some kind of platform for the observation of celestial and stellar events”(v). Collins expanded on his views in two later papers on his website(w)(x).
While the Baalbek monoliths are astoundingly impressive, they would appear to be outshone by the unfinished stele in the quarry at Yangshan in eastern China. Its estimated weight has been put as high as over 6,000 tons. Its creation is attributed to the reign of the Yongle Emperor in the early 15th century. However, others claim much greater antiquity, insisting that “although it is a limestone quarry, the stones were not cut and shaped with hammer and chisel, as you will see. They were machined.(y)!
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 age of Baalbek megaliths at 12,000 years or more.
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 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.
The late Alan Alford wrote an extensive paper on Baalbek(a). Immanuel Velikovsky and others have supported the idea that Baakbek was in fact the location of the biblical city of Dan, recorded as the most northern city of ancient Israel. Furthermore, the earlier notes on the subject by Velikovsky are also available online(i) in which he suggested that Baalbek was the temple built by Jeroboam in the north of the former Kingdom of Israel to compete with Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem in the south.
December 2014 found the latest estimate for the weight of the largest dressed stone found at Baalbek was 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.
There are a number of YouTube videos featuring the Baalbek ruins(u).
(a) See: Archive 3414
(k) See: Archive 2653
(s) See: Archive 3409
Sea-Level Changes. Recent years have seen the production of ever more detailed data relating to sea-level changes following the last Ice Age. In 2006 researchers discovered that the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska was created around 9000 BC, a thousand years earlier than previously thought.
Such changes could have had a direct bearing on the Atlantis mystery, particularly if Plato’s assertion that its inundation took place in 9600 BC is true, as this would place the event at the end of the last Ice Age and the melting of the glaciers with the consequent raising of the level of the oceans. Although we are usually given the impression that this deglaciation progressed steadily it would appear that in reality the process continued at different rates and was at times temporarily reversed.
Recent studies(f) have clearly indicated that aboriginal Australians have preserved memories of the rising sea level at the end of the last Ice Age.
A 2000 report(c) from Dr Robert Baker and Professor Peter G.Flood from the University of New England in New South Wales, suggests that 4,000 years ago sea levels “may have been up to two metres higher than at present and that sea levels have risen and fallen like a roller coaster over the last 6,000 years.” I would expect that sea levels two metres higher around 2000 BC would have left archaeological evidence on a global scale. Until that is forthcoming, I would treat this claim with caution.
Dr Robert Haworth who worked with Dr Baker endorsed the conclusions of Baker and Flood(k). A few years later Haworth found further evidence of higher temperatures and sea levels in the Sydney area 6,000 years ago(l).
Estimates of the total change in sea levels vary between 300 and 500 ft. The most recent studies have estimated the rate of sea-level rise at an average of one metre per century punctuated by occasionally increased rates of 2.5 metres per century(a). To complicate the picture further, many areas in northern latitudes that had been depressed by the weight of the enormous ice sheets of the last Ice Age, rose considerably as a result of isostatic rebound when the glaciers melted.
There is general agreement that the raising of the sea-levels had dramatic consequences worldwide. Vast landmasses, such as Sundaland, the Celtic Shelf, and the Caribbean were totally or partially submerged, leaving many of today’s islands as remnants. Communities that had flourished in these regions during the last Ice Age must have been devastated which naturally led to the generation of myths recalling their former glory. Atlantis is assumed to be one such legend with a firm basis in reality.
Other, more controversial effects have also been proposed, such as the breaching of a landbridge that had existed between Spain and North Africa at Gibraltar and/or a similar isthmus between Sicily and Tunisia. James Bramwell reports that in the 1930s geologists spoke freely of the breaching of a Gibraltar dam around 15,000 years ago. More recently, writers such as Joseph S. Ellul, Sergio Frau and Paulino Zamarro have convincingly based their Atlantis theories on this concept. The Mediterranean sea level is discussed elsewhere.
Other writers have proposed an asteroidal or cometary impact as the cause of catastrophic flooding, but such inundations would have receded fairly rapidly. In the end, we are left with the ending of the last Ice Age as the primary cause of profound changes in the topography of our planet that probably included the submergence of one civilisation that we now refer to as Atlantis.
However, Plato introduces another detail into his Atlantis narrative, namely that following the submergence of Atlantis, it created a maritime hazard in the form of shoals. Plato wrote that “wherefore also the ocean at that spot has now become impassable and unsearchable, being blocked up by the shoal of mud which the island created as it settled down.” (Timaeus 25d). The implication of this is that the shoals still existed in either Solon’s or Plato’s lifetime. We must also keep in mind that the draft of ships, such as triremes, at that time was about a metre. The attached chart shows how between 5000 BC and the present, the rate of sea level has been relatively slow. Even allowing for any local seismic, tectonic or isostatic activity I would interpret the data to suggest two important facts; first, the flooding of Atlantis could not have taken place before 5000 BC and still be a hazard in the first millennium BC and secondly if it occurred after 5000 BC Atlantis must be still in shallow water.
Kurt Lambeck has demonstrated from a study of Roman fish pens that the sea level along the Italian coast, 2000 years ago, was 1.35 metres below today’s levels. His investigations also included a study of land elevations along the coast that may have been affected by seismic or tectonic processes and found that they had raised the land by 1.22 metres, indicating that global sea levels had risen by just 13cm over the past two millennia, most of which has occurred over the past century(d)! Lambeck’s conclusions have been severely criticised by Izabol Apulia(e).
Professor Nicholas Flemming of the University of Southampton has written extensively on the subject of sea-level changes , particularly in the Mediterranean(h). A more localised study of sea-level changes around Malta during the Holocene has been produced by an Italian team led by Stefan Furlani(i).
Furthermore, if the destruction took place before 5000 BC then either Solon or Plato concocted the description of the shoals, which would have no purpose whatsoever!
Sea level changes in the Gulf of Mexico are discussed in an online pdf file(b). In the same region, there is now claimed to be evidence(g) confirming that sea levels were lower during the last Ice Age and that the Yucatan Peninsula was very much larger.
A June 2021 report(j) concluded that Israeli sea levels rose at a relatively fast rate of 2 – 2.5 metres within 200 years between the Hellenistic and Roman periods. I am not aware of any corroboration from other sites in the region, so, lacking any such evidence, I am forced to conclude that this is more likely to have been the consequence of localised seismic activity rather than a more general rise in sea levels. On the other hand, seismic events are usually instant and not spread over centuries! Further investigation is required.
(e) See: Archive 2566
(k) Atlantis Rising magazine # 22 p11
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 at the 2005 Atlantis Conference.
>On his website, Manuchevich outlines the reasoning behind his theory(b) in a series of blogs. He also offers further insights in an old Atlantis Rising forum(c).<
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”.
(a) http://self.gutenberg.org/articles/Location_hypotheses_of_Atlantis (link broken)
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 (2002) produced a book in Spanish that places Atlantis in what is 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, the Mediterranean and the 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).
A Q & A session from 2005 is also worth a read(c).
In 2006, he engaged in lengthy exchanges with Johann Saltzman in a forum on the now defunct Atlantis Rising website(b). Further ‘Atlantis in Israel’ debates took place on the AR forum in 2007(d)(e).
In 2002, Manuschevich published La Atlántida, el mito descifrado (Atlantis, the Deciphered Myth), in Spanish and in 2008, he self-published Israel was Atlantis, in English, in Santiago, Chile, but I have been unable to locate a copy. (ISBN 978-956-319-270-4)
(a) Parte II: Israel fue La Atlántida. Los errores geográficos Platón. Historia (archive.org) (Spanish) * See: Archive 2654 (English)
See: Archive 7206 | (atlantipedia.ie) (English)
Obsidian is a glassy rock produced as a consequence of rhyolitic volcanic eruptions and is usually dark blue. 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.
It is interesting to read that obsidian was also considered valuable in North America around 7000 BC, when obsidian artifacts were discovered at an underwater site in Lake Huron, using material that had been brought from central Oregon 2,000 miles away(h).
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 great 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 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 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.
In 2017 Robert H. Tykot published a very detailed paper on the sourcing and distribution of obsidian in the Central Mediterranean.(i)