November 15, 2018

Our Last Day and Some Final Thoughts



Our final day of the trip had arrived.  Upon leaving the delightful city of Zahle and our excellent hotel, we arrived at the archeological site of Anjar.  It is on the Damascus Highway, and less than a kilometer from the border with Syria.  This is also one of the only archeological sites in Lebanon that does not involve layers of time and different occupations.  It was built around 714 AD by the Umayyad Dynasty, and overrun and abandoned by 744 AD.  Here are some photos.  Note the brilliant blue sky, the first of our whole trip!
The ridge in the background of this photo is on the Syrian border.  We were that close. 

Our last and most fabulous lunch of the trip was at the local tourist restaurant Shams.  In addition to more food than could fit on our table, the restaurant featured indoor gardens, a bowling alley and even sushi.  It was quite a place. 

On our way to the Beqaa Valley a few days previously, some of us noticed a huge sodalite pillar situated near the edge of the highway.
On our way back over the mountains, we were looking for that pillar so that we could stop and take some photos.  Our Lebanese guide directed the bus to pull over, and we jumped out to find not only the larger pillar near the highway, but another one in addition to a large rose quartz on either side of the doorway to the “Gemstones of the World” store.
This turned out to be a very large gem and mineral store owned by a Brazilian family.  What a surprise.  As some of you may know, I collect crystal skulls.  I am always on the lookout for them, but none had been found at all on this trip until today.  I was thrilled to find two great ones here.  That made my day.

Upon arriving back in Beirut, I walked the Corniche with two friends from the trip.  What a delightful way to end the journey. 

All in all, this was a very action packed and challenging trip, and I do not regret going.  However, this is why I won’t be traveling with Megalithomania in the future.  This is the second trip that I have taken with them, and I would definitely not travel with them again because of some very unprofessional behavior from Hugh Newman and Andrew Collins (and Brien Foerster).  The way that they run their trips is this.  They hire a tour company that makes arrangements for the transportation, retains a local guide, and makes all of the arrangements for food and lodging for the group.  Then Hugh and Andrew carry on as if they were fellow travelers instead of the leaders of the trip.  This included being late to the bus numerous times and holding up our departure, standing in front of something that people were trying to photograph, Hugh's constant filming of everything, and Andrew’s ongoing obsession with the incident at Gobekli Tepe. 

I am not alone with the complaints.  We had many disgruntled people there at the end.  The trip to Mexico was even worse.  Megalithomania failed to assist in making sure that people got to the airport on our final morning, in addition to other issues, so that there were many very angry travelers upon departure.

Bottom line, what we paid for the trip enabled Hugh and Andrew to travel for free, and they spent most of the time filming and furthering their own research instead of guiding us through the various sites.  In addition to all of that, they use their research and photography to earn extra money for themselves after the trip is finished. As our “employees”, they should have been focused on us, instead of themselves.  If you can tolerate all of this, by all means, travel with them as they go to some interesting places.  I will not be traveling with Megalithomania again. 
 

November 14, 2018

The Quarries


During the two days that we were in the Baalbek area, we visited 3 ancient quarries. Limestone was what was being removed here, not only by the ancient inhabitants going back who knows how far, but also by the Romans. 

Our first stop upon getting into the area was at the quarry where the “Stone of the Pregnant Woman” was located.  Mythology states that if a woman touched the stone, it would enable her to become pregnant.  It must have been quite a pilgrimage site.  It’s a good thing that the women in our group were past childbearing age, or we could be in trouble!  By best estimates, this accurately cut stone weighs 1000 tons.  Yes, tons!  Above is a photo of the group standing next to it for perspective. 

The largest foundation blocks that we saw at Baalbek were estimated to weigh 800 tons, and no one knows how they were moved and put into place.  This one is more massive than those.  You can see where the level of the surface soil was until it was removed.
In the process of excavating, another massive stone was uncovered below and next to the first one.  Its weight is estimated at 1650 Tons.  It is possible that there may be more here further below these.
The question is, who quarried these stones, how were they going to remove them, and where were they going to go?  From his experience with quarries around the world, Hugh Newman has a theory that one massive and possibly unmovable stone is always left in the quarry.  Why, who knows! Certainly we saw that at Karahan Tepe, and it is also true at the red granite quarry in Aswan, Egypt, with the unfinished obelisk that is larger than anything else found in that country.
Our next stop was the quarry across the road.  Here we have another cut stone weighing over 1200 tons.  Slices and chunks have been taken out of it presumably for other building projects.  BTW, it was at this point when the big wind and rain storm blew in.
The last stop after our day at Baalbek was to a quarry in a residential neighborhood that was rarely visited by tourists.  It was a hidden gem!  We first visited a cave that was dug into the ground by the Romans.  The purpose of this was to get to the best quality of limestone.
Note the outlines of the chunks of stone that had been removed by the Romans  To me, that does not match up with the massive stone foundations that we had seen at Baalbek.  I am convinced that those were there before the Romans arrived on the scene.
Now we went cross the field to what I have dubbed “The Sun Temple”.

Certainly the rock on this outcropping had been carved, but not necessarily to remove it as building material.  Here is a very fancy cave that had been carved.  Note the vertical grooves at the back, and the light coming in through a square opening on the left side, illuminating a pattern on the grooves.

Of course, we were there at the wrong time of year to see either solstice or equinox sunrise or sunset phenomena, but I am convinced that that was the purpose of this site.  Every ancient agricultural society had to keep track of the seasons in this way.  Also note the “stairway” to nowhere that was to the left of this cave. 
This is a common sight in Peru, and I also noticed at least one of these at Hattusa. 

Around the corner and further to the left on the same outcropping was another carved cave.  It was oriented to the west, and the setting sun was shining into it.  Here is a photo of it with a shadow, and then one without the shadow cast by the sun.
Again, one would have to be here during those sun calendar events to see exactly what was going on.  It looked like a winter solstice shrine, and the exact date of the solstice would be determined by where the shadow lined up with the appropriate carved "step".

November 13, 2018

Baalbek

Now on to the huge and fabulous ruins of Baalbek, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is billed as having the largest and most impressive Roman archeological remains in the world.  It did not disappoint.  To get there, we drove from Beirut, across a mountain range, and down into the Beqaa Valley, Lebanon’s main agricultural area renowned for its wine production.  We went through a town that started as a Palestinian refugee camp and had turned into permanent housing, and also saw several Syrian refugee camps along the way. 

Our first stop was at the quarry where the “Stone of the Pregnant Woman” is located.   I’ll write more about that in the next post.  While we were there, however, a fierce wind starting blowing, with dust, dirt and garbage blowing everywhere, followed by lots of low rumbling thunder, and then torrential rains.  After hanging out in the site’s gift shop, we went to lunch, and cut the day short a bit by checking into our hotel in Zahle.
This is a lovely town on a mountain slope that has always been a refuge for wealthy Lebanese and foreigners to get out of the summer heat.  We were to spend 2 nights there. 

Anyway, I do not know if it was the big lunch, travel fatigue setting in, the big weather change, or the preview of tomorrow’s energy at Baalbek, but I went right to bed in the middle of the afternoon after checking into the hotel.  After a lecture that Hugh Newman gave the group later in the afternoon, I took a walk onto town after nightfall to get some snacks and to get back into my body, only to have the power in the whole town go out because of the ongoing storm.  A little creepy, but the headlights from the passing cars helped light my way back to the hotel.  It was still raining at that point, too.

So on to Baalbek the next day.  Fabulous!  Not only is the total area of the site very large, but remains of the structures that are there are huge, too.   Most of the structures are made of limestone, but there are also columns of red granite that came from the Aswan quarry in Egypt and several other kinds of granite that we could not identify.   Here are some photos.
Here is the red granite from Egypt.
As I wandered around, mouth agape, I stopped to tune in energetically to a huge block of limestone. The first impression was the energy of “love”.  I then remembered that I got that same energy at Alacahöyük at the start of our trip.  What does this mean? The energy was elevated, joyous, sparkly, and gave me a sense of happiness.  Is this the vibration that was used to levitate the super heavy stones?  I also received a message that said that the large multi ton stones could be tossed around like a child’s wooden blocks.  This is not the first time that I have felt that giants were involved.  Here are more photos of this amazing site.
Here, we were looking down through a gap in the upper wall to view the megalithic blocks that we would visit later in the afternoon.  They look small here, but they were the size of railroad cars.
After lunch, we went back to Baalbek to check out the outside of the enclosure.  If the inside was mind boggling, the outside was even more so!  Here, the outside of the big walls and the foundation stones could be seen.
It seems obvious to me that the foundations are much older than the rest of the site, and that what is seen on the inside of the site has been built on the ancient foundations here.  In the photo below, it looks like the darker more ancient foundation stones were trimmed to an angle to meet the newer construction above.
Here is the often noted Trilithon, the 3 800 ton stones that are actually on top of several 400 ton stones. The enigma is that normally, heavier and larger stones are on the bottom, yet it is reversed in this location.  The Trilithon stones are the 3 paler stones at the center of the photos below.  It was too large to get into one shot. 


Below you can see the newer construction up against the older construction with the larger stones.
I took some time to tune into the large railroad car sized stones that were lined up in one of the photos above.  What I got was that the large multi ton stones that we were looking at were indeed much older than the rest of the site. They were there first before anything else was built.  They were moved through levitation and vibrational softening.  The interesting bit here was that when using this method, there was no difference in the moving of a heavy and bulky stone versus a smaller and lighter stone.  It was all the same since gravity and weight did not apply!

By the time we left Baalbek, the weather was starting to clear up.
We went on to visit several quarries, which I will write about in the next post. 

November 12, 2018

Byblos

It was now time to leave Turkey.  Some travelers went home at this point, some connected to other trips, and about half of us went on to do the Lebanon extension.  I figured that as long as I was over there, I might as well do that.  I might never travel that way again.  Going through security upon our arrival at the Beirut Airport was a fairly stringent affair.  Everyone got the once over, and we were told ahead of time that if we had an Israeli stamp in our passport, we may be denied entry into the country.  

Our first night was in Beirut, and as we arrived after dark, there was not much to see.  I did take note of the bombed out Holiday Inn that had never been torn down after the civil war ended in 1990.  By daylight many abandoned buildings could be seen. 

The city had been rebuilt in a very haphazard way after the war.  No city planning was in evidence.  Before the war started in 1975, Beirut was known as the Paris of the Mediterranean.  There were 40 casinos, and many fashion designers held the first showings of their collections there.  That time is long past now. 

As it turned out, the rest of the country had the same “chop suey” energy as Beirut had.  A little of this and a little of that, all thrown together.  On our first morning there, we visited the Jeita Grotto, which is a huge cave that has an upper and a lower part.  We first walked the upper part to view the fabulous stalactites and stalagmites, and then took a short boat ride on the river that flows through the lower part.  Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos, but you may find some on the internet.  It is worth taking a look.

Then on to the coastal town of Byblos.  It goes back at least 7000 years, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a continuously inhabited town for all of that time. The current town itself is just charming,
 and the harbor is picture perfect. 
The whole area has layers of ruins and old habitations from the Phoenician, Greek, Roman, and Crusader periods. 

After having a huge Lebanese lunch, we toured the ruins.  Here is the Crusader castle, which had been destroyed and rebuilt several times.
The Temple of the Obelisks looked fascinating, but unfortunately, it was fenced off.  My sense was that there was something important energetically going on in there.
Here you can see an abandoned house overlooking the sea at the edge of the ruins.  This area had been covered over by dirt and debris through the years, and eventually, people built their houses on what they thought was bare land.  When the excavations started, all of those houses were torn down except for this one.  From the size of the house, it looks like this was probably a wealthy enclave.
While we were standing in this area, a flock of storks in V formation flew overhead.  They were on their way to Africa for the winter. 
Here are a few other photos of the grounds.
Back to our hotel in Beirut for another night before heading to the Beqaa valley.