Excavations

The Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek<br/>Photo between 1890-1923, Library of Congress, US<br/>Click to enlarge

The first scientific work on the Baalbek ruins was executed in 1757 by the English and in 1785 by French scientists. Baalbek became a place frequently visited by artists, photographers, poets and scholars. The most prominent visitor in the 19th century was the German Emperor Wilhelm II in 1898. He initiated excavations undertaken by German scholars between 1900 and 1904. Excavations have since concentrated on the three temples that are in close proximity and all related to each other, i.e. the temples of Jupiter, Bacchus and Venus. In the 1920s the Department of Antiquities of the French mandate government continued the excavations. Since 1945, the Lebanese Directorate General of Antiquities (DGA) continued operations.

In 1997 a cooperation between DGA and the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI) was initiated, who jointly have been executing excavation work. According to the DAI, there is 'hardly any site in the Near East that could better represent the symbiosis of occidental and oriental cult practice and cult architecture than Baalbek'. The great mystery of Baalbek concerns the massive foundation stones beneath the temple of Jupiter. The podium on which the temples were built, is fortified by a huge outer wall and a filling of massive stones. On the western side of the acropolis, three even larger stones, called the Trilithon, can be seen. How these blocks, with a weight exceeding 1,000 tons each, have been transported and handled, is still unknown.