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A trilithon (or trilith) is a structure consisting of two large vertical stones (posts) supporting a third stone set horizontally across the top (lintel). It is commonly used in the context of megalithic monuments. The most famous trilithons are those of Stonehenge in England, those found in the Megalithic temples of Malta, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the Osirion in Egypt.
The term also describes the groups of three stones in the Hunebed tombs of the Netherlands and the three massive stones forming part of the wall of the Roman Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek, Lebanon. Far from Europe and the Middle East, another famous trilithon is the Haʻamonga ʻa Maui in Tonga, Polynesia.
A group of three horizontally lying giant stones which form part of the podium of the Roman Jupiter temple of Baalbek, Lebanon, go by the name "trilithon", although they do not fit the above definition. The location of the megalithic structures is atop of a hill in the region, known as Tel Baalbek. Numerous archaeological expeditions have gone to the site starting in the 19th century, primarily German and French groups, and into the 20th century research continued. Each one of these stones is 70 feet long, 14 feet high, 10 feet thick, and weigh around 800 tons.These three stone blocks are the largest building blocks ever used by any human beings anywhere in the world. The supporting stone layer beneath features a number of stones which are still in the order of 350 tons and 35 feet wide. In the quarry nearby, two Roman building blocks, which were intended for the same podium, even surpass 1,000 tons, lying there unused since their extraction in ancient times.
How did the Baalbek "trilithon" get there?
No one knows how these blocks were moved, cut, placed, and fit perfectly together. Many like to say aliens were involved since they are so heavy, and seemingly impossible for ancient humans to move. But there is another theory developed by Jean-Pierre Adam, in his article “A propos du trilithon de Baalbek. Le transport et la mise en oeuvre des megaliths”. He came up with two basic yet complex tools or mechanisms to be able to transport the stones. The first, very simply put[peacock term], consisted of a very wide metal wheel, surrounded by a wooden platform. The second method of transport also simply put involved two wooden wheels, 12 feet apart with a large iron platform in between. These would both be drawn by horse. He then went on to describe a large pulley system operated by many men, consisting of large wooden wheels, with poles attached, that the men would push. This force would turn the wheel, pulling the cable made of hemp, which in turn would move the large blocks of trilithon.
- Adair, Aaron. "Moving the Stones of Baalbek–The Wonders of Roman Engineering". Fleeing Nergal, Seeking Stars. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
- "Baalbek Trilithon". About.com Religion & Spirituality. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
- Adam 1977, p. 52
- Ruprechtsberger 1999, pp. 7–56
- "Transporting the Trilithon Stones of Baalbek: It’s About Applied Physics, Not Ancient Aliens". PaleoBabble. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
- Adam, Jean-Pierre (1977), "À propos du trilithon de Baalbek: Le transport et la mise en oeuvre des mégalithes", Syria 54 (1/2): 31–63, doi:10.3406/syria.1977.6623
- Ruprechtsberger, Erwin M. (1999), "Vom Steinbruch zum Jupitertempel von Heliopolis/Baalbek (Libanon)", Linzer Archäologische Forschungen 30: 7–56
- Yule, Paul A. (2014), "Cross-roads – Early and Late Iron Age South-eastern Arabia", Abhandlungen Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft 30: 73–77