Stone of the Pregnant Woman

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Stone of the Pregnant Woman

The Stone of the Pregnant Woman (Arabic: Hadjar el Hibla‎) or Stone of the South is a Roman monolith [1] in Baalbek (ancient Heliopolis), Lebanon. Together with another ancient stone block nearby, it is among the largest monoliths ever quarried. The two building blocks were intended for the close-by Roman temple complex − possibly as an addition to the so-called trilith − which was characterized by a monolithic gigantism unparalled in antiquity.

Name[edit]

Stone of the Pregnant Woman on an early 20th-century lantern slide

There are multiple stories behind the name. One says the monolith is named after a pregnant woman who tricked the naive people of Baalbek into believing that she knew how to move the giant stone, if only they would feed her until she gave birth.[2] Others say the name comes from the legends that pregnant jinn were assigned the task of cutting and moving the stone.[3] While others say that the name reflects the belief that a woman who touches the stone will experience an increase in fertility.[4]

Location[edit]

The granite block still lies in the ancient quarry at a distance of 900 m from the Heliopolis temple complex.[5] In 1996, a geodetic team of the Austrian city of Linz conducted topographical measurements at the site which aimed at establishing the exact dimensions of the two monoliths and their possible use in the construction of the gigantic Jupiter temple.[6] According to their calculations, the block weighs 1,000.12 t,[7] thus practically confirming older learned estimations such as by the French scholar Jean-Pierre Adam.[8]

The established dimensions of the rectangular limestone block are:

  • 20.31–20.76 m length[9]
  • 4 m width at base[9]
  • 4.14–5.29 m width at top[9]
  • 4.21–4.32 m height[9]
  • 2.6–2.8 g/cm³ density[9]

Second monolith[edit]

Another, recently discovered Roman monolith of 1,242 t

A second ancient monolith was discovered in the same quarry in the 1990s. With its weight estimated at 1,242 t, it even surpasses the dimension of the Stone of the Pregnant Woman.[10]

The established dimensions of the rectangular limestone block, on the assumption that it continues its shape in the hidden parts underground, are:

  • 19.5–20.5 m length[10]
  • 4.34–4.56 m width[10]
  • 4.5 m height[10]
  • 2.6–2.8 g/cm³ density[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Adam, Jean Pierre; Anthony Mathews (1999). Roman Building: Materials and Techniques. Routledge. p. 35. ISBN 978-0415208666. 
  2. ^ Ruprechtsberger 1999, pp. 12f.
  3. ^ Hanauer, James Edward (1907). Folk-lore of the Holy Land: Moslem, Christian and Jewish. Duckworth & Company. pp. 74–. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Doyle, Paul (2012-03-01). Lebanon. Bradt Travel Guides. pp. 213–. ISBN 9781841623702. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Ruprechtsberger 1999, p. 10
  6. ^ Ruprechtsberger 1999, pp. 9–11
  7. ^ Ruprechtsberger 1999, p. 15, the calculation is based on a length of 21 m.
  8. ^ Adam 1977, p. 52: 970 t
  9. ^ a b c d e Ruprechtsberger 1999, p. 15
  10. ^ a b c d e Ruprechtsberger 1999, p. 17

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Stone of the Pregnant Woman at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 33°59′57″N 36°12′01″E / 33.99917°N 36.20028°E / 33.99917; 36.20028