“The largest stone in the world”: The Stone of the Pregnant Woman
The Stone of the Pregnant Woman (Arabic: Hadjar el Hibla) or Stone of the South is a Roman monolith in Baalbek (ancient Heliopolis), Lebanon. Together with another ancient stone block nearby, it is among the largest monoliths ever quarried by men. 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.
The monolith is named after a pregnant woman who, as local legend has it, tricked the naive people of Baalbek into believing that she knows how to move the giant stone, if only they would feed her until she gives birth.
The Roman stone block still lies in the ancient quarry at a distance of 900 m from the Heliopolis temple complex. 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. According to their calculations, the block weighs 1,000.12 t, thus practically confirming older learned estimations such as by the French scholar Jean-Pierre Adam.
The established dimensions of the rectangular limestone block are:
20.31–20.76 m length
4 m width at base
4.14–5.29 m width at top
4.21–4.32 m height
2.6–2.8 g/cm³ density
The Baalbek trilithon is a set of three massive stone blocks which are part of the foundation of the Temple of Jupiter Baal (“Heliopolitan Zeus”) in Baalbek. They are so large that people cannot imagine how they were cut and transported to the site. As impressive as these three stone blocks are, though, there is a fourth block still in the quarry which is three feet longer than the blocks in the trilithon and which is estimated to weigh 1,200 tons. Locals have named it Hajar el Gouble (Stone of the South) and Hajar el Hibla (Stone of the Pregnant Woman), with the latter apparently being the most popular.
In the two photos above you can see just how large it is – if you look closely, each image has one or two people on the stone to provide reference. The stone is at an angle because it was never cut away. Although we can see that it was cut to be made part of the Baalbek site, it remains attached at its base to the underlying bedrock, not unlike a plant which still has roots in the earth. No one knows how such a massive stone block was cut so precisely or how it was supposed to be moved.
As with the trilithon, it’s common to find people claiming that since we don’t currently know how the ancient engineers accomplished this or how they planned on moving this massive block to the temple site, that therefore they must have employed mystical, supernatural, or even extraterrestrial means. This is just nonsense, however.Presumably the engineers had a plan, otherwise they would have cut a smaller block, and an inability to answer the questions right now simply means that there are things we don’t know.