Baalbek

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Baalbek (Arabic: بعلبك‎) is a town in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, altitude 1,170 metres (3,840 ft), situated east of the Litani River. It is famous for its exquisitely detailed yet monumentally scaled temple ruins of the Roman period, when Baalbek, then known as Heliopolis, was one of the largest sanctuaries in the Empire. It is Lebanon's greatest Roman treasure, and it can be counted among the wonders of the ancient world. It contains the largest and most noble Roman temples ever built, and they are among the best preserved.

Towering high above the Beqaa plain, their monumental proportions proclaimed the power and wealth of Imperial Rome. The gods worshiped here, the triad of Jupiter, Venus and Bacchus, were grafted onto the indigenous deities of Hadad, Atargatis and a young male god of fertility. Local influences are also seen in the planning and layout of the temples, which vary from the classic Roman design.

Baalbek is home to the annual Baalbeck International Festival. The town is about 85 km (53 mi) northeast of Beirut, and about 75 km (47 mi) north of Damascus. It has a population of approximately 72,000.

Contents

History

Prehistory

The history settlement in the area of Baalbek dates back about 9000 years, with almost continual settlement of the tell under the Temple of Jupiter.[1]

19th-century Bible archaeologists wanted to connect Baalbek to the "Baalgad" mentioned in Joshua 11:17, but the assertion has seldom been taken up in modern times. In fact, this minor Phoenician city, named for the "Lord (Baal) of the Beqaa valley" lacked enough commercial or strategic importance to rate a mention in Assyrian or Egyptian records so far uncovered, according to Hélène Sader, professor of archaeology at the American University of Beirut.

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