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Stone of the Pregnant Woman

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Title: Stone of the Pregnant Woman  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Baalbek, List of ancient architectural records, Tyre Necropolis, Maronite mummies, Tell Mekhada
Collection: Ancient Roman Architecture, Monoliths, Roman Sites in Lebanon, Tourism in Lebanon, Tourist Attractions in Lebanon
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Stone of the Pregnant Woman

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 1
  • Location 2
  • Second monolith 3
  • Third monolith 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
    • Sources 6.1
  • External links 7


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]


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

The rectangular granite 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

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 1,242t, it even surpasses the dimension of the Stone of the Pregnant Woman.[10]

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

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

Third monolith

A third ancient monolith was discovered in the same quarry in 2014 by the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Its weight is estimated at around 1650t, making it the largest stone ever carved by human hands.[11]

It measures:

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

See also


  1. ^ Adam, Jean Pierre; Anthony Mathews (1999). Roman Building: Materials and Techniques. Routledge. p. 35.  
  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–.  
  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. 


  • Adam, Jean-Pierre (1977), "À propos du trilithon de Baalbek: Le transport et la mise en oeuvre des mégalithes", Syria (in French) 54 (1/2): 31–63,  
  • Ruprechtsberger, Erwin M. (1999), "Vom Steinbruch zum Jupitertempel von Heliopolis/Baalbek (Libanon)" [From the quarry to the Jupiter temple of Heliopolis/Baalbek (Lebanon)], Linzer Archäologische Forschungen (in German) 30: 7–56 

External links

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