The Stone of the Pregnant Woman is a gigantic monolith partially buried in the ground at the site of an ancient quarry in Baalbek, Lebanon. Some say touching the stone increases fertility. Weighing nearly 1,000 tons, this monolith is the largest and heaviest man-made block in the history of the world – or at least it was until 2014, when an even larger block weighing more than 1,600 tons was found directly underneath it, along with another one nearby that weighed over 1,200 tons.
Half a mile away from the quarry stand the ruins of the ancient Temple of Jupiter, once the Roman empire’s largest temple. An outer podium of this structure contains a remarkable feature known as the trilithon – three gargantuan stones, each weighing 800+ tons, placed neatly in a horizontal row and fitted perfectly together some 30 feet above the ground, atop layers of smaller stones.
Baalbek has been inhabited continuously since the Stone Age. At different times the Assyrians, Babylonians, Canaanites, Persians, and Greeks have controlled it. When the Romans took over, they made Baalbek a major outpost of their empire and renamed it Heliopolis.
The Romans built the temple, although the foundation of the temple complex where it is located appears to overlay earlier foundations. But who laid the massive trilithon and cut the megaliths? And why, of all places, is a medium-sized town like Baalbek home to three of the four largest stones ever quarried, as well as the three largest stones ever made part of a building? The origin of these huge stones – roughly 40 times the weight of the Stonehenge monoliths – is truly one of the great mysteries of the ancient world. Or… maybe not.
Local legends abound. Some say the megaliths date back to Cain, the son of Adam and builder of the first city. Or to Nimrod, who is said to have led the construction of the Tower of Babel. Or to the race of giants who appear in the Book of Genesis. The stones have that larger-than-life look of remnants from a distant era.
But mainstream archaeologists assure us the answer to the riddle is simple – the Romans cut the stones and erected the trilithon, period. The Romans, after all, were proven master builders who were up to the task of quarrying and erecting large stones, even ones as large as those found in Baalbek. Further, there are no written accounts discussing the stones prior to the Roman era. Still, skeptics question why the Romans would have quarried and erected monoliths this massive only in Baalbek and nowhere else in their vast empire.