Asia: Temples, Palaces / Baalbek (BAALBECK)

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Scholars suggest that Baalbek started its life as a convenient trading post between the Lebanese coast and Damascus. What seems equally as likely, however, is that - situated close at the highest point in the Beqa’a, and set between the headwaters of Lebanon’s two greatest rivers, the Orontes and Leontes - this elevated site became an important religious centre at a very early date indeed. Excavations in the vicinity of the Great Court of the Temple of Jupiter have revealed the existence of a tell, or occupational mound, dating back to the Early Bronze age (c.2900-2300 BC). By the late second millennium BC a raised court, entered through a gateway with twin towers, had been constructed around a vertical shaft that dropped down some fifty yards to a natural crevice in which ’a small rock cut altar’ was used for sacrificial rites. In the hills around the temple complex are literally hundreds of rock-cut tombs which, although plundered long ago, are thought to date to the time of the Phoenicians, the great sea-faring nation of Semitic origin who inhabited Lebanon from around 2500 BC onwards and were known in the Bible as the Canaanites, the people of Canaan. They established major sea-ports in Lebanon, northern Palestine and Syria, as well as trading posts across the Mediterranean and the eastern Atlantic seaboard, right through till classical times. Indeed, it is believed that Phoenicia’s mythical history heavily influenced the development of Greek myth and legend.


 

09.12.2017

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17.05.2017 .

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