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date: 21 October 2019

Baalbek [Heliopolis]locked

  • Margaret Lyttleton

Extract

[Heliopolis]

Greco-Roman site in Lebanon, c. 1150 m above the fertile Bekaa Valley 64 km to the north-east of Beirut. Its remains chiefly comprise the vast Sanctuary of Jupiter Heliopolitanus (begun c. 1st century bc), the exceptionally well preserved ‘Temple of Bacchus’ (2nd century ad; see fig.) and an elegant circular temple perhaps dedicated to Venus (3rd century ad; 1b). The ancient city lay on the caravan route from Damascus and Palmyra to the Phoenician coastal cities and was occupied from prehistoric times, although it did not become important until the Hellenistic period (323–27 bc). Attempts to link Baalbek with Solomon’s Balaath, or with any other biblical site, have not met with general acceptance. The worship at Baalbek of the Semitic storm god Baal, whom the Greeks assimilated to Zeus and the Romans to Jupiter, was of great antiquity: the rectangular court of the Temple of Jupiter was built over an ancient tell containing the remains of at least three sanctuaries going back to the ...

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C. Wood: Dictionary of Victorian Painters (Woodbridge, 1971, rev. 2/1978)