Baalbek

Introduction

The use of symbols is considered an essential method of communication today. Ancient symbols for example have been used to communicate the culture of the concerned people as well as their beliefs and history. An example of such ancient symbols that make part of is people’s history and culture up to today is Baalbek which is Lebanon’s Sacred Fortress. In the Eastern part of Lebanon there lays the great temple complex of Baalbek. The temple now lies in ruins and is usually located in the highest point in the Beeka valley. Amongst the ruins, there still stands the largest and tallest block of stone, one of its own kind in the whole world and one of the most unique and adored holy places in the ancient times (Collins 12-23).  .

It is believed that the name Baalbek originated from combining two concepts. The first one is Baal which was a name given to god through out Middle East. The term Baalbek then is believed to mean ‘God of Bekaa valley’. During the reign of the Romans (64 BC-312 AD) the city was known as the city of the sun and the temple became the central place where they worshiped the sky/sun god Jupiter. According to the known history of the temple, it was erected during the reign of Emperor Augustus and saw its completion in 60 AD making it the largest ever worship place to be put up by the Romans (Collins 12-23).

The massive tones of stones still standing in the ruins today are an important feature of the Lebanese people. Even though some of the answers as to the nature of the construction remain unanswered today, the Lebanese people still very much look up to the remains of the Jupiter temple in Baalbek as an important part of history that they can relate to. The architectural designs applied in the buildings are astonishing. The massive blocks of stones that weigh thousands of kilos were used to build the temple. Even today no crane holds the capability of lifting a load weighing that much, which then begs the answer how the ancient Romans were able to transport these blocks of stone (Mruzek 12-17).

Baalbek is today seen as a very important and symbolic holy place. It was given the name of Sun City just like the title given to ancient holy places in Egypt by the Romans. The place was construction depicted some very notable and beautiful architectural designs which were dedicated to worship of their god Baal. Several temples built around the temple of Jupiter were also dedicated to worshiping other gods who were important to the people of Beeka valley. The presence of Baalbek therefore is important to the Lebanese people as it reveals their ancient religious cultural practices including the different gods that the locals worshiped.

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