Archaeology Odyssey 3:5, September/October 2000

Colossal Enigmas

The ancient stone temples of Baalbek

By Arthur Segal

It is unlikely that any archaeological work will be undertaken at Baalbek in the near future.

This imposing site lies about 50 miles east-northeast of Beirut (ancient Berytus), between the Lebanon and anti-Lebanon mountains in the Beqa Valley, today home to 30,000 Syrian troops that represent Syrian control of its neighbor. There is much about Baalbek that a modern archaeological excavation could tell us. Excavations have uncovered some Early Bronze Age (third millennium B.C.E.) remains as well as more substantial Middle Bronze Age (about 1700 B.C.E.) remains. But the tell has never been the subject of an extensive modern archaeological excavation. It has been surveyed, photographed, drawn, poked at and sometimes restored but never really dug, so what we know about the site is mostly what has been seen on the surface.

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