• Moving the Stones of Baalbek–The Wonders of Roman Engineering

    Previously I had talked about an amazing piece of computational engineering from the ancient world, the Antikythera mechanism, which was also posted up at A Tippling Philosopher. In the comments there, a discussion came up about another wonder of antiquity which has attracted all sorts of speculations among alternative thinkers. This is the construction of the temple complex at the city of Baalbek, also known as Heliopolis, in modern-day Lebanon, about 70 kilometers* north of Damascus. The site has considerable antiquity, but it is the large stones at the temple, especially the three known as the Trilithon, that have garnered the greatest attention, each weighing in around 800 tons.* And deservedly so, as they are some of the largest single objects ever moved in the pre-modern era.

    There are standard explanations for this place, but as noted, alternative scholars like to also propose other ideas. So, here I will look at what sorts of strange hypotheses have been proposed, and then I will describe what is the most likely explanation based on current knowledge of the site. No matter which explanation (giants, aliens, Romans), the structure is a wonder all its own and should inspire awe. If only we could have seen it in its heyday.

    First off, a little bit about the location. Baalbek is in the Beqaa Valley, which in the Hellenistic period was called Coele Syria. The location of the megalithic structures is atop of a hill in the region, known as Tel Baalbek. Numerous archaeological expeditions have gone to the site starting in the 19th century, primarily German and French groups, and into the 20th century research continued. To this day there is still literature published about the location and calls for further looks into the chronology of the place.

    The site has a long history, and newer expeditions have extended that history even farther than many would have known. The first German expeditions had been unable to find anything there before the Roman period (after the conquests of Pompey in c. 64 BCE), but later expeditions have found Persian, bronze age, and even neolithic artifacts, making the place a settled area for thousands of years. After the time of Constantine, the temple complex there became devoted to Christianity, many of the pagan artifacts destroyed, and later the region would be under the jurisdiction of the Islamicate with its own architectural features and history, including the brickwork portion of the walls.

    With its long history and monuments, many legends have been attached to the megaliths. While the summary by Alouf (1949) is very much out of date, it relates many of the legends of that region, mostly from Arabs. Some believed that the monument was the construction of the Nephilim, the giants mentioned in Genesis that were destroyed by the Deluge, and some creationists believe this today (see also here). For those that don’t believe in the supernatural in Genesis, they may instead see the giants as somehow related to aliens. Also related to the Bible, some believed that the structure was created by Nimrod, ordering the giants to built up the location. Others claim that this was the location of the Tower of Babel. Still others say that it was built by Adam’s son, Cain, making this the oldest building in the world.

    In modern times, new legends have been attached to the site, probably the most notable one is due to one person (and rarely can we pin a legend down to an individual), Zecharia Sitchin [EDIT: Jason Colavito informs me that the following idea is older than Sitchin; in fact, it was Soviet propaganda.]. Starting in the 1970s, Sitchin made all sorts of claims about Sumerian culture and their contact with aliens from the planet Nibiru, very much of it getting academic ire. What Sitchin believed was that the site, especially the trilithon stones, acted as the landing pad for extraterrestrial space craft, probably shuttles coming from their mother ship (cf. Sitchin 1999). He also claimed to find evidence of the use of Baalbek in the Epic of Gilgamesh, though unfortunately it appears to be wishful thinking. Nonetheless, this is the idea presented in Ancient Aliens, though the show is also inconsistent in saying the Nazca Lines were runways.

    Along with these legendary claims comes the belief in the extreme antiquity of the site. Various sources will claim the megaliths there are over 9000 years old, and this also fits into the idea of Genesis (the earth is less than 10,000 years old) and its race of giants, aliens making civilization-forming contact with the pre-human apes, or some sort of Atlantis-like civilization. It is of the opinion of David Childress (2000) that the construction was from a civilization known as the Osirian Empire which existed before the Egyptian dynastic period and contemporary with Atlantis. So not only are there amazing claims about who is responsible for creating this site, there are claims of extreme age.

    Baalbek_2_1906Lastly, when it comes to legends, there are some attached to just a single stone, and one that isn’t even part of the Baalbek temple complex. It is a stone about 800 meters from the tel, still not taken out of the ground. Known as the Stone of the Pregnant Woman, it has a mass of 1000 tons!* Stories surround the object. One gives it its name: a woman was said to know how to lift the great rock, but she was pregnant and would only reveal this knowledge should she receive prenatal care and her costs of living until her due date. Once the time came, no great secrets were revealed. Others have said that touching the stone helps ones fertility. In just the last few decades, another even larger stone was found south and across the road from the Pregnant Woman stone; it was mostly buried, but it appears to have a mass on the order of 1200 tons.* These stones appear to be the same as those used in the trithilon, though they were not completely worked into shape, let alone detached from the quarry rock (Ruprechtsberger 1999). Nonetheless, these stones help show where much of the building material at Baalbek came from.

    So, how on earth were these dense pieces of earth moved before the innovations of gas-powered engines or any of the machines we take for granted? Sure, we have cranes that can lift these rocks, but we have modern alloys and steel, powerful motors, and years of experience and education for engineers. How could this have been done in antiquity? According to Alouf (1949), to move the Stone of the Pregnant woman would require a team of 40,000 men, an effective impossibility of concentrated humans with the needed coordination. Doesn’t it require some sort of otherwise unknown advanced civilization to do the job?

    Now, there has been a fair amount of literature on the subject, and some of it has been made accessible to the layman by Michael Heiser and the documentary Ancient Aliens Debunked, but the story isn’t complete, especially on the point of dating the quarrying and moving of the trilithon. So, I will explore here, best I can, what seems to be the mainstream view of how the stones were moved, and what evidence is used. I provide my sources at the bottom of this post.

    But before I get into that view, I have come across one other idea for the moving of the stones without and Atlantis-like or ET civilization, and the idea is to use a canal and so using the buoyant force to make the stones weigh less and thus easier to transport and put into place. It’s not a crazy idea, and the Romans did have the ability to move water in such a way to make it plausible. However, 800 ton stones would need to displace 800 cubic meters of water, and that will require a rather large ship, such as the ones designed to go on the Nile for moving obelisks to Rome. It would be difficult to produce a large water canal, a large enough ship, and it still seems like a fair bit of lifting of the trilithon stones would be needed at the construction site. The key thing, though that could show such a hypothesis is correct is find some sign of early plumbing. Then again, a good source of water will be needed, and in large quantities, and in a place such that it can go uphill enough to fill in this canal that is above the Beqaa valley. While I don’t know of anything that would kill this hypothesis, it seems that it is not the most probable solution.

    So, to begin looking at the standard view, it is necessary to date the site. While artifacts going back thousands of years before the Roman occupation have been found, there is no record of Baalbek in Assyrian records. One particular silence is a war during the reign of Shalmaneser III (9th century BCE), in which a coalition of kingdoms of north Syria, headed by the ruler of Damascus fought the Assyrian forces. In the tribute list after that war, numerous cities are mentioned, but Baalbek is not one of them. The silence continues into the Babylonian and Persian occupations of the Beqaa valley, suggesting that the location was of minimal importance (Jedijian 1975). After Alexander the Great the region would go back and forth under the control of the dynasties Alexander’s generals had formed, and in the Beqaa another dynast formed and had its own currency. By the time the Roman general Pompey conquered the region, the place was noted by the geographer Strabo as mountainous with high regions controlled by robbers, and the plains had farming communities. There are no indications of any great structures there, let alone some of the largest stones ever moved.

    The literary silence from a multitude of sources is already suggestive that this wonder of the ancient world did not yet exist. That leads us to the archaeology to see how much antiquity we can put into the great stone structures there.

    To understand how to date the site, we first need to note what was built there besides the amazing western wall that houses the trilithon. There were several temples built there, the largest being the Temple of Jupiter, in the past boasting a multitude of huge Corinthian columns. These are some of the largest columns in antiquity, and they were hewn from the local stone sources. These columns are not a single, solid piece, but instead there are several pieces (or drums) that had to be stacked together, with the capitol placed at the top, holding up the roofing structure as well as having its own classical elegance. The other temples there, such as that of Bacchus and Venus, also have these columns, a staple of Greek and, later, Roman architecture.

    This is important because of what is found underneath the base stones that are themselves under the trilithon. As you can see in this picture, below the three great stones are other impressive stones that act as a base for the trilithon.

    While not as massive as the trilithon stones, these base structures each have a considerable mass. However, below them was discovered a part of a drum to a column. The size of the drum corresponds to the columns used for the Jupiter temple, so this was likely a leftover or no longer useful piece of one of those columns. Because it is underneath the base stones, this drum must have been place there before the trilithon was put into place. Also, on top of one of the trilithon stones there is a drawing of the plans for the Temple of Jupiter, which was built over by the Romans when it was no longer needed. By having pieces of the Jupiter temple below the trilithon and these drawings on top, we can be reasonably certain that the trilithon stones were put into place contemporaneously with the construction of the Temple of Jupiter (Kalayan 1969).

    So already, by having the trilithon stones contemporaneous with the temple we have established the Roman provenance of the structure. However, we can do more to pin down the dating of the megalith’s placement. In the rubble found at the temple complex, the top drum of a column of the Temple of Jupiter had an inscription placed on it which dates itself to the reign of Emperor Nero. Dedicated to Fortuna, the inscription was likely made just before it was placed into the column structure. As such, we know that the temple was still being built during the reign of Nero (Kalayan 1969). However, it likely began before he took control of the empire. Recent research indicates that before the great Temple of Jupiter was built, there was an earlier, unfinished temple there built perhaps during the reign of King Herod the Great. This temple would have been worked out before the time of the great retaining wall with the trilithon, so we can say that the construction and placement of the trilithon must have been after Herod’s time (dying in 5/4 BCE) and before the end of Nero’s reign (Kropp & Lohmann 2011).

    So not only can we discount the fanciful ideas of the structure having been built by aliens in the great and distant past, but we can actually narrow down to several decades when the structures were being put into place. Moreover, when it comes to the cultures we know of, the Romans are far and away the most plausible people that could have built this place up. While the Egyptian pyramids are a marvel, the average stones that were moved are not within two orders of magnitude of the mass of the trilithon stones (2.5 vs. 800 tons), and the Egyptians didn’t have tools such as cranes or compound pulleys. The construction of these buildings required a level of technology that would not exist until the Hellenic period, and the Romans would perfect it. Moreover, the Romans had the political stability in the region, the finances, and the technical know-how. In particular, they had a lot of knowledge and practice with the use of the crane.

    We can reasonably know the Romans used cranes for construction at multiple sites, including at Baalbek, and one of the tell-tale signs are “dents” in the stones that were lifted. In order to lift up an object and be able to set it down with precision, you won’t have much luck having ropes or other things wrapped around and going underneath. Once the object is set down, you now have to get those ropes out of there, which can be challenging if you are moving multi-ton stones. Pulling the ropes like that will also not allow for precision in laying the stones in place. Only being able to gradually put the stones in place without anything in between the surfaces will be up for the job.

    To do this lifting, you will need grip, and there are two primary ways to get grip on stones without having to specially shape them. One could use the lewis which will fit into a pre-fabricated hole and get an excellent grip on the rock. The hole is placed over the center of gravity of the object, so this cannot be what was used at many of the Baalbek stones which have holes places well above the center of gravity and along the length of the stones.

    More likely what was used were iron forceps or tongs (ferrei forfices), which were even faster and easier to use than the lewis. In the same way you apply a force onto paper when using scissors, the forceps grip into the holes made in the rock and hold into place. Once the pressure is released, then the forceps let go. There were limitations with the use of this tool, so they tended to be used on average-sized stones; there were limits on how wide you can get the forceps (not a problem with a lewis) and there is always the risk of slipping. Details are provided by Adam (1994).

    However, there is another thing notable in the large stones at Baalbek: there are several holes in a side of the stones, usually in a line. It’s hard to find a picture of this, but there is a good example on the base stones under the trilithon for figure 84 in Jidejian (1975) (see also here), but not in all cases. It’s hard to tell, but in some cases perhaps forceps were used, and in other cases lewises were used, leaving no exposed holes as there are stones covering them on top. Either way, there are several of them, and it needs explanation, to which we must turn to what you need once you have a grip: lifting force.

    If you want to lift something up, it tends to be easier when you use a pulley and can pull down with all your weight. However, that simple pulley also means the maximum you can lift if your own body weight. If you are planning on lifting objects several tons in mass, consuming a lot of hot dogs and cola isn’t going to do the trick; but never fear, mechanical advantage is here! As first-term students in college physics will learn, when you draw a free-body diagram of the forces in a system of pulleys you cut down on the force you need to apply in lifting an object by the number of pulleys used. If you have an apparatus with 3 pulleys, you will only need to apply one third the force to lift the same object using only one pulley. This wouldn’t be exactly true in practice, in part because of the friction in the system, among other issues. Nonetheless, a large number of pulleys can greatly multiply ones lifting potential, and this was understood by the Greeks as it is discussed in treatises by Hero of Alexander, Vitruvius, and someone in Aristotle’s school in the 3rd century BCE.

    But that is not all. There is also the ability to use cranes. The invention of the crane is usually placed in the 6th century in Greece, with evidence coming from archaeological finds of lifted stones with lewis holes (Coulton 1974). After this time the lifting potential of the Greeks and then later still the Romans sky-rocketed as the use of the compound pulley was put into practice. There were limitations with the designs at first, but the Greeks in the fourth century BCE and later the Romans greatly advanced their methods. The cranes they would create would be amazing machines, some even using humans in a wheel acting as hamsters to drive up a load. Apparently these machines were well-regarded as they were put into the funeral relief of one rich Roman family, the Haterii.

    In addition, if one combined a crane that would lift vertically with a capstan that pulls horizontally or with the tread-wheel design seen in the Haterii tomb relief, a couple of people could lift something on the order of ten tons (Adam 1977). However, even that much would not be sufficient to lift many of the stones at Baalbek. But we also noticed that there were several gripping holes in those heavy stones, so it is likely that multiple cranes would be used to lift such objects. As such, several compound pulley cranes were used in tandem to lift some very heavy rocks. This becomes particularly impressive when one of the reliefs that went into the Temple of Jupiter had to be lifted up 19 m and had a mass of about 100 tons!

    However, this ignores one major thing about the trilithon stones: there are no signs of lewis holes on the top and no forceps grips on the sides that are visible. Perhaps there are holes on the ends we cannot see, but that would leave little space to fit all the gripping points to lift the 800 ton masses. Also, there were not likely to be forceps 20 m wide to grip the trilithon stones, an iron tool that probably would have been heavy enough on its own. What this means is that there are no signs that the trilithon stones were lifted. So how to get them into place?

    IMG_1044There is a feature of the stones that needs consideration, and that is the elevation of the quarry vs. the current location of the trilithon stones. According to the reliable sources on the site, the quarry is actually slightly higher in elevation (Adam 1994). To check this, I looked at a late 1940s US Navy topological map of the area (that was what I had at the university library), which I have placed here (click to enlarge). The scale is that 1 mm is equal to 200 m (1:200,000). In the image I put a yellow circle for the approximate location of the Stone of the Pregnant woman, and it’s just about on or next to the 1150 meter line, while the temple complex is below that, though you can pretty much follow the 1150 line from the quarry to the temple, providing an almost perfectly level route. I also verified this with relief map data from US space-based sources (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission 3 [SRTM3]), where again the elevation difference was small and the temple location of the stones was slightly lower. What that means is that you could get the stones from the quarry to the ground level of the temple without ever having to lift them an inch.

    If you want to check for yourself, here is the Google maps image of the Stone of the Pregnant Woman with coordinates; there are two stones like it in the area, but this is the correct one because of that red-roofed house you see in the northeast corner–you can see it in some modern pictures of the stone in the background (i.e. here, here, and here).Untitled 3

    South and west of that is the other major stone that was uncovered a couple of decades ago.

    Untitled 4

    Now, the terrain between the quarry and the temple isn’t flat today, but there has been 2000 years of soil erosion. Still, this wouldn’t matter because of all the things the Romans could do, they could build flat roads. A little bit of leveling and no worries about ever having to push the trilithon stones uphill at any point on the way to their resting place. As for how to get there, Adam (1977) provides the key insights. As you can see with the unfinished stones in the quarry, the stones are pointing upward a bit, giving space between the ground and their bottom surface. This process means there is space to place rollers; when the stone is finally freed from the mountain, it will already be on a bed of rollers, never even needing to be lifted onto them.

    Now, many think that a sled for the stone would be good, which would reduce the friction between the rollers and the stone. However, this probably won’t be a good idea because you will need to get the stone off the sled in order to get it slid into place on the base stones; with 800 tons, that is no easy task. So it would be all rollers from the quarry site to the temple mound. This sort of use of rollers was done for the 600 ton stone for the obelisk of Mussolini, all done with human and animal power, plus a lot of ingenuity (Adam 1994). The largest single stone ever moved, the Thunder Stone, had similar principles, though it used a sled on top of what were effectively ball bearings to greatly reduce the friction. In antiquity, the trilithon is comparable to the largest stones at the modern Wailing Wall, namely the Western Stone, massed at around 520 tons, which we know was put into place during the Julio-Claudian dynastic period, starting under King Herod. In other words, a stone of a bit smaller mass than the trilithon stones was placed during about the same time as the great Baalbek stones were.

    Another feature is that the base stones that were mentioned earlier will be in place and have reached the level of the ground, which is also about the level of the of the quarry. So, as seen in the diagram above, the trilithon stones continued to slide along rollers until reaching the base stones, and it just continued to slide. Never was it necessary to build ramps, lift the stone, or create some new soil structures to get the stones from their quarry to their resting place; it’s a flat road from the quarry to the destination.

    But there is still the issue of dragging the stones, and there will be a whole lot of frictional force. However, if the workers used a bunch of capstans, then it would be possible to pull the stones into place using a mere 144 workers (Adam 1977). (Note that in the diagram below, the soil marked 4 is temporary during the construction, and afterwards it will go away; it is only the soil behind the wall that will remain, and on the outside the ground level will be where it is marked 3.)

    So now the project has gone from needing an estimated 40,000 workers to get the stones out of the quarry to a matter of hundreds for pulling the stones into place. It’s almost easy. Well, not easy. and considering the two stones found in the quarry, that indicates that work was stopped on that front, probably because it was found to be unnecessary and extremely labor-intensive (making it expensive and time-consuming).

    This also brings up the question about where these other two large stones would have been placed. According to Ruprechtsberger (1999), it seems that these stones would have finished wrapping around the main temple complex. As can bee seen in this picture of the wall, the trilithon stone did not go all the way into the corner of the base, but the size of that gap (~4 m) is just the size to fit another such stone going perpendicular to the trilithon (also note, the brickwork in place is an Arab construct, not part of the original wall). On the other end of the trilithon, another massive stone would have been similarly placed perpendicular to the current trilithon stones. This way the great stones would have surrounded much of the base of the Jupiter Temple, as can be seen in this reconstruction of the temple mount with the current trilithon in place (from Adam 1977):

    But why were these large stones put into place at all? What’s wrong with using smaller stones?

    This gets to the purpose of the wall that the trilithon is part of: it is a retaining wall. Because of soil erosion, the ground of the tel with the massive temples being constructed would not be stable over time. As the soil gives way, the buildings will settle, lean, and stone isn’t good when it comes to that. You can expect the structures to collapse in a relatively short period of time, making the religious project a waste (not to mention pissing off your preferred deity). But building a retaining wall will block the soil from moving downhill. The most effective retaining walls will use the most massive, solid blocks, so that they are not moved by the force of the soil. The shape of the base, which does not simply provide a vertical wall but widens near the bottom, also resists the torque of the soil pressing at the top of the wall. So, in order to make the temple complex safe from eroding down the hill and taking the buildings with them, the Romans built some of the most massive retaining walls in history. And considering how well they stand after 2000 years, that is mighty impressive.

    With all the above, we can say when the stones were placed, what civilization was involved, likely how the stones were moved and placed, and why it was done. Compare this to the alien claims: the wall cannot have great antiquity because of the archaeological context; we don’t know if such beings even exist, let along came by and did things with rocks (and why); the methods of moving are unknown and seem to differ between stones for no explicable reason (why lifting holes in some stones but not others); and there is no plausible reason why the wall was constructed (it would have been rather thin for a landing pad with just the trilithon stones). Same issues when it comes to the Nephilim of the Bible. Plausibility and evidence are all on one side of this ancient mystery.

    But that isn’t to say there isn’t more to learn. Archaeologists have noted how the designs and plans changed multiple times, and while construction may have begun under Herod the Great, structures were still being worked on throughout the second and into the third century. The nature of these changes and how they affected the construction of the rest of the temple complex is not completely understood. Other points of why the workers and engineers decided not to continue in using the most massive monoliths are also worth exploring. So there is plenty to research; it’s just that there isn’t anything that aliens/giants can explain better.

    *Note: all measurements will be in metric units, so ton will mean 1000 kg of mass, etc.

    Sources:

    • Adam, Jean-Pierre. “À propos du trilithon de Baalbek: Le transport et la mise en oeuvre des mégalithes”, Syria 54, 1/2 (1977): 31–63.
    • Adam, Jean-Pierre. Roman Building: Materials and Techniques. Indiana University, 1994.
    • Alouf, Michael M. History of Baalbek. American Press Beirut, 1949 [1890].
    • Childress, David. Technology of the Gods: The Incredible Sciences of the Ancients. Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited Press, 2000.
    • Coulton, J. J. “Lifting in Early Greek Architecture”, The Journal of Hellenic Studies 94 (1974): 1-19.
    • Jidejian, Nina. Baalbek: Heliopolis, “City of the Sun”. Dar el-Machreq Publishers: Beirut, 1975.
    • Kalayan, Haroutune. “The Engraved Drawing on the Trilithon and the Related Problems about the Constructional History at Baalbek”, Bulletin du Musee de Beyrouth 22 (1969): 151-5.
    • Kropp, Andreas J. M. Lohmann, Daniel. “‘Master, look at the size of those stones! Look at the size of those buildings!’ Analogies in Construction Techniques Between the Temples of Heliopolis (Baalbek) and Jerusalem”, Levant 43, 1 (2011): 38-50.
    • Ruprechtsberger, Erwin M. “Vom Steinbruch zum Jupitertempel von Heliopolis/Baalbek (Libanon)”, Linzer Archäologische Forschungen 30 (1999): 7–56.
    • Sitchin, Zechariah. The Stairway to Heaven. HarperCollins: New York, 1999 [1980].

     

    This thorough and fascinating post was first posted on Aaron’s own blog, which can be found here.

    Category: HistorySkepticism

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    Article by: Aaron Adair

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    • JohnM

      Hey Aaron ( if you see this ). I think we’re in about the same place as we ended last time.

      The Roman cranes had a 5 ton max capacity, right? So given that this is a 800 ton stone, that’s 160 cranes needed. Where are you going to find space for that amount of cranes in such a confined room? Keep in mind that all cranes need to be able to reach the stone. Even lifting the smaller stones underneath with Roman cranes, is pretty hard to believe.

      Furthermore, the claim that Baalbek is downhill, is easily refuted just by looking at the picture you yourself included.

      http://gilgamesh42.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/baalbek_2_1906.jpg

      Do you see those pillars in the background? That’s baalbek.

      I even went google map on you last time:

      http://oi50.tinypic.com/25ptg5l.jpg

      Anyone can do their own investigation here:

      https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=da&ll=33.999788,36.20508&spn=0.015832,0.033023&t=h&z=16

      Just enable terrain mode, and anyone can see that Baalbek sits above the nearest terrain line, and the quarry sits below.

      Article said : Now, the terrain between the quarry and the temple isn’t flat today, but there has been 2000 years of soil erosion.

      What are you talking about? 2000 years of soil erosion would only have made the terrain flatter.. Soil erosion is the soil of the hills sliding down into the valleys.. The hills get smaller, the valleys get filled in. Gravity tends to pull things down to level ground, not build mountains. And you only find soil erosion in rugged terrain. If the terrain is flat, the earth has nowhere to slide. So your claim is pretty much self-defeating.

      Article said : Still, this wouldn’t matter because of all the things the Romans could do, they could build flat roads.

      There is no sign of such anything like that ever having taken place. And that’s pretty strange considering that most Roman roads are still around.

      Article said : when the stone is finally freed from the mountain, it will already be on a bed of rollers

      One would have to be completely insane to move such stones on rollers. After all, this is a soil erosion area. The ground would not have been able to support the weight pressing down on the rollers. The soil would have been like quicksand under those rollers.

      Do you ever ask yourself why we don’t just place asphalt on a grass lawn, but place layer after layer after layer of different support materials underneath it?

      This is what happens if you don’t:

      http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/images/0263704-TruckInMud2.jpg

      That’s why we do this:

      http://www.beautifulvista.com/Recent_Photos/Recent_Trips/Glacier_Trip_Photos/Road_Construction.JPG

      And this:

      http://www.volvoce.com/SiteCollectionImages/VCE/Pictures%20and%20Videos/others/RI_SCAS_278x228.jpg

      Furthermore, moving large stones on rollers is very dangerous.. Imagine that your car runs out of gas. You get out and starts pushing the car downhill. Pretty soon the car will out-run you, and you have no way of stopping it, because you’re chasing it downhill. Or the other way around.. you’re pushing it uphill. You get tired.. your foot slip, and you get run over by your own car.

      When moving large objects uphill or downhill, the difficulties increase exponentially with weight. Not only do you have to fight friction and push it forward, as you do on plain ground, you also need to fight gravity uphill or prevent it from turning into a disastrous roller-coaster downhill.

      As for the dating of Baalbek:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baalbek
      Recent archaeological finds have been discovered in the deep trench at the edge of the Jupiter temple platform during cleaning operations. These finds date the site Tell Baalbek from the PPNB neolithic to the Iron Age. They include several sherds of pottery including a teapot spout, evident to date back to the early bronze age.

      The trench that they’re talking about, near the Jupiter temple, is this one. It’s directly north of the Jupiter temple:

      http://paleocontact.com/media/paleocontact/upload/baalbek_29.jpg
      http://paleocontact.com/media/paleocontact/upload/baalbek_30.jpg

      So no, it’s not something that they just happened to build next to. It is part of the structure itself.

      Also notice that once again you have giant stones, weighing several hundred tons.. And they are not functioning as a retaining wall, but rather as a defence wall. How does that add up with your explanation?

      Article said : But there is still the issue of dragging the stones, and there will be a whole lot of frictional force. However, if the workers used a bunch of capstans, then it would be possible to pull the stones into place using a mere 144 workers (Adam 1977). (Note that in the diagram below, the soil marked 4 is temporary during the construction, and afterwards it will go away; it is only the soil behind the wall that will remain, and on the outside the ground level will be where it is marked 3.)

      How long would it take 144 workers to move that mountain of dirt? Did you ever consider that?

      And as I pointed out last time… If you need a retaining wall in the first place, to keep the soil from sliding downhill, then there’s no way to have soil on both sides of the wall. One would need two retaining walls to prevent that. Just look at the following illustration:

      http://oi48.tinypic.com/1zlzl07.jpg

      Article said : While not as massive as the trilithon stones, these base structures each have a considerable mass. However, below them was discovered a part of a drum to a column. The size of the drum corresponds to the columns used for the Jupiter temple, so this was likely a leftover or no longer useful piece of one of those columns. Because it is underneath the base stones, this drum must have been place there before the trilithon was put into place.

      I’ve tried to investigate this claim. I could only find the following:

      http://www.eridu.co.uk/Author/Mysteries_of_the_World/Baalbek/Baalbek6/baalbek6.html

      Is there any evidence that the Romans built the platform of Baalbek as well as the temples upon it? One text book assures us that: ‘Part of a [Roman] drum or column similar to those found in the Temple of Jupiter was used as a block in the foundation under the Trilithon’. But where is the evidence for this Roman drum? I myself have been to Baalbek and I can show you dozens of photographs of the foundation walls, but I cannot show you the alleged Roman drum. It seems to have vanished into thin air.

      And then there’s the whole question of stone erosion.. Take a look at this picture:

      http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_sWDo0ppyX-8/S7uHNSgJirI/AAAAAAAAAZY/RXfaM3YJHAA/s1600/balwshrp.jpg

      Look how eroded the lower stones are, compared to the upper ones.. Almost looks like sandstone doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. It’s actually red aswan granite. And therefore anyone who followers the evidence, will conclude that the lower ones are much much older than the ones above.

      • JohnM, from what you wrote it seems that both you did a poor job at reading what I wrote (I’ll provide examples of this) and you don’t know how to do research or understand the subjects at all but are willing to find anything you want that kind-of fits what you want.

        You go and try to find someone that doesn’t think there is a drum under the base stones, all because they couldn’t find a picture of it when they went to, what, the gift shop at Baalbek? The person obviously didn’t do any real research, like looking at the actual archaeological reports, such as the one I cited. He mentions reading something about it in a book, but he obviously didn’t notice that that book (the quote seems to be from Jidejian [1975]) cites the report. And what’s more likely: the archaeologist made up artifacts to have an evil conspiracy to prove the monument is Roman, or some bloke on the net doesn’t know how to do research? You also said that all you could find on the subject of the drum was that website, but I provided a
        citation to an archaeological report. Why don’t you actually find that paper and read it? That’s how real research is done; 5 minutes of using Google doesn’t make you an expert or even knowledgeable. I actually went and read everything I cited; please do the same before going with some sort of conspiracy.

        You prove that you didn’t read what I wrote because you still talk about using cranes to move the trilithon, even though I clearly said that never was the stone lifted. Ever. Also, you prove you didn’t read what I wrote because you keep saying cranes could lift only up to 5 tons, when I provide a source that says 10. You also can’t believe all these other heavy stones around Baalbek were lifted, when I point out that one of the base stones has obvious indentations for crane forceps, and I pointed out there is a 100 ton frieze in the Jupiter Temple that was lifted into place. Or did the aliens also build the Roman temple? Again, you didn’t even consider this data, indicating you didn’t actually read what I wrote about it.

        Elevation: I provide an actual topology map and you still claim against it and the reliable sources that the quarry site is uphill from the temple complex. It seems you don’t understand how elevations are determined, and they aren’t done with cameras. Being able to see Baalbek in the background doesn’t mean it is up higher than the quarry stones, especially if you don’t know the elevation of the camera; it’s obviously high up that the quarry stone (you can see the top of the stone), so of course you can see the temple complex even if it is higher or slightly lower in elevation than the
        quarry. You also want to depend on Google Map data, but if you take a look you will know that those that use those maps give +/- 30 meters on those elevation measurements, sometimes even worse, and particularly bad outside the USA.

        http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/earth/3Th8MuHzKtE
        http://www.gearthhacks.com/forums/showthread.php?15844-How-accurate-is-elevation-on-google-earth-and-how-is-it-measured
        http://www.bentrideronline.com/messageboard/archive/index.php/t-35041.html

        So why are you using less reliable data instead of a map I went and took a picture of? Are you going to claim the US Navy is in some sort of conspiracy to make the quarry have a higher elevation? Why did you ignore this map?

        Also with your Google Map image, you didn’t highlight the Stone of the Pregnant Woman but the other stone still in its quarry. I showed this to be the case with the two Google Map images I provided and proved which one was the Pregnant Woman stone. But again, since you didn’t actually read what I wrote you didn’t realize that, instead you repeated your mistake and using that mistake to argue against what archaeologists say using unreliable topological data. That’s a double-fail, and again you failed because you didn’t read.

        The second retaining wall: Why is this such a mystery to you? Why is it hard to understand there was a temporary retaining wall to hold the soil in place until the main construction was done? Have you not heard of scaffolding? Temporary structures used to make permanent ones. What you find to be a baffling mystery is not to anyone who knows how to build things.

        Soil Erosion and Roads: You prove you won’t even look at the geography of the site. The quarry site is not at the top of a hill, and there is more soil at higher elevations that can slide down over centuries. And if time were to make the area flat, and you don’t think the Romans flattened it, they why is it not flat today? Your own speculation refutes itself. As for making a road, why would the Romans make a road between a quarry and the building area as high quality as, say, the Via Appia? Because someone can produce permanent roads doesn’t mean they will, and the roads did have viae terrenae. Heck, there are state highways in Michigan that are dirt roads today. Ask yourself: is it worth the cost to build an expensive road when a dirt one will suffice? As for getting the rock stuck in the mud, that’s not so much a problem for two reasons.

        1. rollers have a lot more surface area than wheels. Your example of the truck is poor on that front.
        2. dirt roads are nasty after heavy rains or monsoons. That’s hardly a problem in Lebanon; not exactly known for its heavy rains.

        I should also note that what you claim to be so dangerous and nearly impossible to do (pulling a large stone on rollers on a dirt road) has been done in the modern era, and I mentioned in particular the stone for the Mussolini obelisk, again indicating that you did not read what I wrote with any care.

        Neo-lithic finds in a trench: this proves you don’t understand how archaeological context works. Let me provide an example. Suppose you are doing a dig underneath the sidewalk in front of the Empire StateBuilding. At the lowest levels of soil that have artifacts you discover Native American finds. Does that mean the building there now was built by the Native Americans rather than New Yorkers in the 1930s? Obviously not. The oldest find at a site does not mean that all the things there are as old. Now, from the principle of superposition, anything on top of a layer is older than that below (unless some evidence of disturbance is provided), so what which is above is older than that below. Meaning any stones on top of such layers are older than the artifacts beneath, but you won’t know necessarily how much older. Perhaps a month. Perhaps centuries. But using more context you can better date items in their respective layers. In the case of the trilithon, below them is a drum to the columns of the Jupiter Temple. That means the trilithon was put in place after at least some of the columns for that temple were made. On top of the trilithon is a drawing of the temple platform for the sake of construction, meaning the trilithon was put in place before the temple was completed. That context puts the trilithon into the time of the construction of the Jupiter Temple, which itself can be dated using inscriptions from the temple.

        Literary evidence: you didn’t even consider this, again demonstrating the complete lack of care you had in reading what I wrote. If this structure was around since the neo-lithic then it is amazing that it is not mentioned by any Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Hellenistic, or very early Roman records. If it was a defensive structure, then amazing we have no evidence of it being under siege or there even being a military force at it before the Roman Era. The silence demonstrates there wasn’t some great fort there (as you seem to suggest), and that combined with the archaeology proves beyond reasonable doubt that there wasn’t a great structure there until Roman times.

        I can also point to another indication that you didn’t read what I wrote with care but stick talking about the difference in erosion of the stonework on top of the trilithon stones compared to the trilithon stones. As I indicated, that upper stonework isn’t Roman but Arab. It’s less eroded because it’s centuries later. I mentioned that that stonework is Arab twice, and you missed it twice.

        How long to move the stones: you pose this and don’t even attempt to answer it. Let’s actually consider it. When the stone is moving, then there is sufficient force to overcome static friction. Kinetic friction is less than static, so once it starts to move it’s easy to keep it moving, so long as the force is maintained. With the stone moving, a slow rate would be something like 1 meter per minute (about an inch every other second; for comparison, you walk at about 1.5 meters per second, so the stone will move at less than a tenth of walking speed). Let’s also suppose after moving the stone its length of about 20 meters you need to stop and reset the locations of the
        capstans, and this takes 40 minutes. So this means we will move the stone 20 meters in an hour. Let’s have workers do this for 10 hours a day. At that rate, since it’s about 800 meters from the quarry to the temple it would take less than a week to get the stone in place. And this is using a rather slow rate of advancement with a minimal number of workers. So what you considered somehow unfeasible time-wise isn’t at all, and instead of actually checking to see if it was you just declared it so much a problem. You are making up excuses for why not to believe what the experts have concluded and not provided a bit of critical thought to your excuses.

        All in all, you prove that you simply choose not to believe the evidence that exists, dismissing things out of hand, from topology maps to artifacts to literary evidence, all without any critical assessment. This is intellectually dishonest, and all the worse when you have to basically call the archaeologists that talk about column drums and quarry elevations liars. If you really think they are so obviously wrong, you had best write a paper on it, show that your facts are more correct than anyone else’s, and get it past peer review. Before you do that, all you are doing is showing that you don’t want to follow the evidence but instead fit everything into some pre-fabricated fantasy about Baalbek. Until you write that paper and get it published, I won’t waste
        more time on you. If you can’t be honest with the evidence and me, there isn’t much point is debating that evidence with you.

        • JohnM

          As for Terrain:

          Aaron said : I provide an actual topology map and you still claim against it and the reliable sources that the quarry site is uphill from the temple complex.

          Oki sure, let’s have a look at the map:
          http://postimg.org/image/nkc33u19z/full/

          I first tried to match it to Satellite photos of the area, based on the roads in the area. I soon gave up, because the roads does not match at all.

          Then I started looking for another way to compare the two. I noticed that the map contained several names.. Douris.. for example. And sure enough, on the satellite map we do find that town. Ain Bourday too. I couldn’t find Cheikh Aabdxxx, but I did find something called Sheik Abdallah Barracks. Apparently its a military base which used to house Iranian Revolutionary Guards, training Hezbollah recruits. I’m guessing that is what it refers to.

          With these 3 semi marked objects on the maps to compare, we have some idea of the different places and the scale that we are dealing with. Then I went ahead and painted a red line around the Ruins of Baalbek, and the Quarry, for comparison.

          Now notice something very important.. If you trace a line directly north from the city of Ain Bourday, on one hand you have the quarry, and a little further up, on the other hand, you have the ruins of Baalbek. And based on that, I think it’s fair to say, that you have misplaced the yellow circle, that you think indicate the quarry, quite a bit.

          Secondly, just look at how completely useless the map is, when it comes to locating the ruins of baalbek. It’s just lying there as a giant black ink-spill. It’s hard to see anything from that. Judging by the size of it, it’s certainly not the ruins of baalbek. More likely the entire town of baalbek.

          So the amount of typographical data that we can gather from the map, is next to none. While on the google map, we can swap to terrain mode, and even zoom in further, than what I shot the satellite map at.

          So while I think it’s pretty cool that you went to the library and found a map, I’m sorry to say, but it’s just worthless compared to the amount of detailed information available in satellite / terrain mode of google maps.

        • JohnM

          As for a drum or column similar to those found in the Temple of Jupiter being used as a block in the foundation under the Trilithon:

          Aaron said : You go and try to find someone that doesn’t think there is a drum under the base stones, all because they couldn’t find a picture of it when they went to..

          The guy I quoted had himself visited Baalbek, and had found no evidence of such.

          And the entire “retaining wall” as you call it, lies exposed. If there were such a drum used as a block in the foundation under the Trilithon, it would be something that stood out from everything else. Don’t you think that people would have taken pictures of it?

          Secondly, there’s a huge problem with the claim. Why would anyone use such a drum as a base stone? Drums are left over, when you’re done building the temple, not before you even lay the foundation. Using a drum in the foundation, makes no sense whatsoever.

          But it’s pretty simple. If there is such a drum used as a block in the foundation under the Trilithon, then there must be pictures of it out there. And when looking at these picture, and many like them:

          http://todoenigma.webcindario.com/imagen1/baalbek3.jpg

          I do see drums being used as part of the upper wall, above the trillions. But certainly not below.

          Not only do we lack pictures of a drum in such a position of the wall, but the pictures that we do have, seems to refute the claim.
          http://www.paranormalpeopleonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Trilithon.jpg

        • JohnM

          As for the cranes:

          Aaron said : Also, you prove you didn’t read what I wrote because you keep saying cranes could lift only up to 5 tons, when I provide a source that says 10.

          Actually, it’s your own source who states that Roman cranes had a 5 ton capacity, ( 12min 17sec into the video ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ya4taJTbY2A

          And even if we granted you the 10 tons max, it’s still a ridiculous amount of cranes, in a very limited area, just to lift the lesser stone underneath the trillions.

          • Andy_Schueler

            I think I speak for everyone else who might read this:
            fuck off and crawl back into the sewer you came from, you insufferable, lying scumbag.

            • I understand your frustration, I really do. Easy on the language etc.

              The way I look at John is that he is victim to the most horrendous cognitive biases. I think educating him in thinking critically is what is most needed.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Do you really believe JohnM can be educated in anything? His cognitive biases are not so much the problem as his complete and utter lack of shame and honesty is. In my entire life, I´ve never seen anyone coming even close to being such a shameless and notorious liar as JohnM is.

            • I think the first person he lies to is himself, and from there, anything is possible.

              It’s a really interesting question as to whether someone like this will ever think critically. He has been shown conclusive argument after conclusive argument on a range of topics and still retreats to confirmation bias. He will store more value in less robust sources which confirm his conclusion. Until he realises this, there is little one can do.

              It is like dealing with an alcoholic who does not admit their problem.

            • Andy_Schueler

              I think the first person he lies to is himself, and from there, anything is possible.

              That´s a possibility. But he also has this habit of taking an argument, picking one tiny point raised in this argument and criticizing it, while completely ignoring the larger context, and then pretending that he has successfully refuted the argument. Then, when he is called out for that, he just drops the point and picks another tangential issue to criticize (again completely ignoring the larger context). I can see where he learned this, because this is a standard YEC tactic – but I can´t imagine how anyone could be able to do this without being aware of the dishonesty of such an approach.

            • There must be a fallacy name for that.

            • Ignoratio elenchi?

              Red herring?

            • Andy_Schueler

              When JohnM arrives at this spot where he just ignores 90% of our arguments completely, I´d say he uses red herrings mostly.
              In this thread, one example would be his red herring about google maps vs. an actual topological map that Aaron produced.

              Which fallacies he uses depends on how far the discussion has progressed. He usually starts with special pleading + fallacy of presupposition + false dilemma, this is usually followed by red herrings + cherry picking in the middle of the discussion, and finally argument from repetition at the end of a discussion.

            • Andy_Schueler

              And at least the presupposition fallacies are partly our fault because we let him get away with this, usually to demonstrate that his arguments fail, even if we grant him his presuppositions (not that he has ever learned anything from this…)

              Similar for special pleading, JohnM´s M.O. is that referring to sources that contradict his views is always a fallacious appeal to authority (no matter if the sources represent an expert consensus or not), but his sources must always be taken seriously, even if he just quotes a random website from a conspiracy nutcase, or a video from UfoTV, or a WorldNutDaily article. And again, we let him get away with this.

            • The point about appeal to authority is a good one. It is linked to confirmation bias. “My sources are good [because they confirm my conclusion] whilst yours are fallacious [because they disprove my conclusion].”

        • JohnM

          Hey Aaron, sorry that I couldn’t reply to all of what you said yesterday. I’ll make it up to you now:

          Aaron said : did the aliens also build the Roman temple?

          I’m not an ancient alien theorists.

          Aaron said : So why are you using less reliable data instead of a map I went and took a picture of?

          Why on earth would your hand-draw map be more accurate, than a map compiled based on satellite data, such as google maps? You think it’s more accurate because you found it in an dusty old book before the satellite age? Why not the other way around?

          Aaron said : As I indicated, that upper stonework isn’t Roman but Arab.

          Arabs worshipping Jupiter?! Did you eat mushrooms or something? The entire place is covered in pagan symbols. And it’s the same building style as what remains elsewhere of the Temple of Jupiter. It’s not built by Arabs. Get real.

          Aaron said : The second retaining wall: Why is this such a mystery to you? Why is it hard to understand there was a temporary retaining wall to hold the soil in place until the main construction was done?

          Build another one? They haven’t finished the first one yet. How can you put up a second, if the first one is still being built? And given that the first one required to be made out of massive stones… Wouldn’t the second require the same kind of strength? Or does twice as much soil require much less retaining?

          Aaron said : And if time were to make the area flat, and you don’t think the Romans flattened it, then why is it not flat today?

          Because of this huge retaining wall in place?

          Aaron said : Ask yourself: is it worth the cost to build an expensive road when a dirt one will suffice?

          No dirt-road would be able to handle those kind of loads.

          Aaron said : rollers have a lot more surface area than wheels.

          What kind of rollers?

          Stone rollers? Pretty hard to move. Would need a crane just for them.

          Wood rollers? Not a chance. They would be crushed under the weight of those stones.

          Aaron said : Neo-lithic finds in a trench: this proves you don’t understand how archaeological context works. Let me provide an example. Suppose you are doing a dig underneath the sidewalk in front of the Empire StateBuilding. At the lowest levels of soil that have artifacts you discover Native American finds. Does that mean the building there now was built by the Native Americans rather than New Yorkers in the 1930s? Obviously not.

          That’s a flawed analogy. The discoveries in the trench at Baalbek, are not “under the sidewalk”. It’s part of the structure, and the trench itself is made up of megalithic stones, which clearly belongs to the temple. Therefore a fair analogy would be finding something in the basement of the Empire State Building.

          Aaron said : In the case of the trilithon, below them is a drum to the columns of the Jupiter Temple. That means the trilithon was put in place after at least some of the columns for that temple were made.

          There is no such drum. It’s a myth. Look at the pictures of the wall. No drums there, except above the trillions.

          Aaron said : Literary evidence: you didn’t even consider this, again demonstrating the complete lack of care you had in reading what I wrote. If this structure was around since the neo-lithic then it is amazing that it is not mentioned by any Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Hellenistic, or very early Roman records.

          First of all, it’s actually mentioned by the bible.

          Secondly, the Greeks knew it as Heliopolis, long before the Romans came about.

          But the real name is baal-bek. I wonder why?

          Aaron said : It seems you don’t understand how elevations are determined, and they aren’t done with cameras.

          Actually, you can do that pretty accurately, by looking at the linear perspective, the horizon line and the vanishing point.

          Take a good look at this picture. It pre-dates much of modern construction in the area, making it easier to see what it’s actually like:

          http://postimg.org/image/751c4tmuv/full/

          And here’s the same stone from another angle:

          http://files.abovetopsecret.com/images/member/de472d2a2a8f.jpg

          One would have to be more or less blind, to deny that these pictures clearly show an uphill approach, and finally the hill on which baalbek is built ( the reason why a retaining wall was needed in the first place ).

          • Andy_Schueler

            Why on earth would your hand-draw map be more accurate, than a map compiled based on satellite data, such as google maps? You think it’s more accurate because you found it in an dusty old book before the satellite age? Why not the other way around?

            Ist das nun Dummheit oder Niedertracht?

            • JohnM

              I have no problem reading German :)

            • Andy_Schueler

              Fluency in german is not required – this is a very famous phrase, which perfectly fits the moment, and which doesn´t sound nearly as nice when you translate it to english.

            • JohnM

              Why are you guys even attempting to argue with me?

              Anyone who wants to know the truth, can just go download google earth, type in Baalbek Libanon, engage street view, and see for themselves in 3d, with the accuracy of satellite data…

            • Andy_Schueler

              Niedertracht. Eindeutig.

            • Ja, genau.

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