Stone of the Pregnant Woman

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The Stone of the Pregnant Woman.

The Stone of the Pregnant Woman (Arabic: Hajar 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 presumably intended for the nearby Roman temple complex, possibly as an addition to the so-called trilithon, and are characterised by a monolithic gigantism that was unparallelled in antiquity.


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 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 experiences an increase in fertility.[4]


The stone 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 estimations such as that of Jean-Pierre Adam.[8]

The rectangular stone block is:

  • 20.31–20.76 m long[9]
  • 4 m wide at the base[9]
  • 4.14–5.29 m wide at the top[9]
  • 4.21–4.32 m high[9]
  • Has an estimated density of 2.6–2.8 g/cm³[9]

Second monolith[edit]

The second Roman monolith, discovered at Baalbek in the 1990s and weighing 1242 t.

A second ancient monolith was discovered in the same quarry in the 1990s. With its weight estimated at 1242 t, it surpasses even the dimension of the Stone of the Pregnant Woman.[10]

These are dimensions of the rectangular stone block, assuming that its shape is consistent in its still-buried parts:

  • 19.5–20.5 m long[10]
  • 4.34–4.56 m wide[10]
  • 4.5 m high[10]
  • Has an estimated density of 2.6–2.8 g/cm³[10]

Third monolith[edit]

The Third Megalith in Baalbek quarry

A third ancient monolith was discovered in the same quarry in 2014 by the German Archaeological Institute. Its weight is estimated at around 1650 t, making it one of the largest stones ever quarried.[11]

It measures:

  • 19.6 m long
  • 6 m wide
  • at least 5.5 m high (still partly buried)

See also[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
  11. ^ "Archaeologists Discover The World's Largest Ancient Stone Block". io9. Retrieved 2014-11-29.


External links[edit]

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