454 PICTURESQUE PALESTINE.
feet were the quarries from which the great hewn stones of yonder temples were taken. In
front were the green gardens and groves of Ba'albek, watered by the great fountain, Ras el
'Ain. One-third of a mile to the north, above the poplar and mulberry orchards, rose the
stately walls and columns of the matchless temples of the Ba'albek Acropolis.
The Great Stone, as it is called, lies in the quarry, hewn smooth on the top, the sides,
and south-east end, the west end not yet being detached from the native rock (see page 473).
On the under side it is cut away, remaining attached to the bed rock in the middle along its
entire length. This is called by the Arabs the " Hajr el Hubla," or stone of the pregnant
woman, and is the wonder of architects, scholars, and practical men from all parts of the world.
It is sixty-eight feet four inches in length, seventeen feet in width, and fourteen feet seven
inches in height. It is computed to contain thirteen thousand cubic feet, and to weigh more
than eleven hundred tons, or two million two hundred and seventy thousand pounds, and would
be almost sufficient to make four obelisks like " Cleopatra's Needle," lately removed from
Alexandria to New York. It was evidently intended to be placed in the northern wall, as a
continuation of that on the west, where the three colossal stones lie end to end twenty feet
above the ground. Some sudden war, pestilence, or revolution must have interrupted the plans
of those ancient builders, or they would not have expended the labour of months, and possibly
years, upon this mighty block, and then abandoned it still undetached from the quarry.
Many other stones, half-quarried, stand on end here and there like square irregular pillars,
separated from each other and the rock by narrow smooth hewn spaces.
The modern Syrians use the same tools and process in quarrying which were used by
their ancestors two and three thousand years ago, and the marks on the blocks of stone made by
the tools of the ancients, exactly correspond to the sharp teeth of the Arab mason's tools of our
The natives insist, in the face of the evidence of their own senses, that these great
stones were not quarried, but cast in moulds, and conveyed by the janns, or genii, to the
temple wall. That these enormous blocks were transported to the temple, and then lifted by
machinery to their place in the walls, or to the top of those towering columns, is incredible.
The only reasonable supposition we can offer as to the ?nodus operandi is, that embankments
of earth were built from the quarry to the temple site on a regular grade, and the stones
drawn on rollers by thousands of men with ropes, as we see represented in the bas-reliefs at
Kouyunjik, discovered by Layard, where the transport of the colossal bulls from the quarry to
the palace gateways is represented in the most elaborate detail. I have never seen this plan
suggested for the transport and elevation of the great stones at Ba'albek, but I am satisfied
that none other can account for the elevation of blocks weighing two millions of pounds.
In ancient times human labour was cheap, kings impressed tens of thousands of men for
their great engineering and architectural projects, and the grade of an embankment from this
quarry even to the top of the six columns of the peristyle (see page 468), would not be too
great for the transport on rollers of even these immense masses of limestone.