Day 98 The sanctuary of Jupiter in Baalbek

“Sculpture of stupefying assurance, grand and splendid,” the German architectural archaeologist Robert Koldewey once wrote to his colleague Otto Puchstein. He was referring to the architectural ornament of the sanctuary of Jupiter in Baalbek in Lebanon. The site contains some of ancient Rome’s most colossal and impressive architectural ruins. This was also the view of German emperor Wilhelm II, who visited the site in 1898 and spoke in favour of an excavation. Koldewey, Puchstein and Theodor Wiegand then conducted archaeological research there in 1900–1905.

Beyond the remains of an Arab residential quarter stands the temple of Bacchus. Visible in the background are the six surviving Roman columns of the sanctuary of Jupiter (Photo: DAI Orient Department)

Since 2001 the DAI’s Orient Department has been back in Baalbek, working with the Direction Générale des Antiquités du Liban. They are researching the entire urban history from the earliest occupation layers in the Neolithic to the Ottoman buildings of the 19th and early 20th century. Other projects include hinterland surveys, restoration work and site management. A museum has been opened in the sub-vaults of the temple of Jupiter. It presents the history of Baalbek and the sanctuary of Jupiter, as well as visits by European antiquaries and past research at the site.

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