The New Yorker On The Myth of Baalbeck’s Megalith

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as Photo credit: Deutsches Archäologisches Institut.

German Archeologists made an incredible discovery a month ago in Baalbeck when they found right next to the “Hajar Al Hibla” in Baalbeck, the world’s biggest ancient stone block. The stone is more than 20 meters long, weighs more than 1.5 tons and nobody knows yet who ordered a 3 million pound megalith to be delivered to Baalbeck or why it got abandoned.

The New Yorker dug deeper into this matter and mentioned few theories that could explain the size of that stone as well as some historical facts about Baalbeck, which is named for Baal, the Phoenician deity, although the Romans referred to the the site by its Greek name, Heliopolis. It’s quite sad though that the article ended on a negative note by mentioning the tensions between Syrian militants, Lebanese Sunni and Hezbollah in Baalbeck and its outskirts.

Check out the full article [Here].

Testimony to Baalbek’s flummoxing properties can be found in the 1860 diary of the Scottish traveller David Urquhart, whose mental capacities were “paralyzed” by “the impossibility of any solution.” Urquhart devotes several pages to the “riddles” posed by the giant stones—“so enormous, as to shut out every other thought, and yet to fill the mind only with trouble.” What, for example, was the point of cutting such enormous rocks? And why do it out there in the middle of nowhere, instead of in a capital or a port? Why were there no other sites that looked like Baalbek? And why had the work been abandoned midway? Urquhart concludes that the temple must have been built by contemporaries of Noah, using the same technological prowess that enabled the construction of the ark. Work was halted because of the flood, which swept away all the similar sites, leaving the enigma of Baalbek alone on the face of the earth.

Scholars today like to laugh at Urquhart, particularly at his alleged belief that mastodons transported the stones. (I didn’t see any reference to mastodons in his diary.) But archaeologists are still trying to solve the riddles that he posed. Margarete van Ess, a professor from the German Archaeological Institute, told me that the purpose of the investigation that turned up the new stone block was precisely to ascertain how the three temple blocks were transported, and why two others like them were left in the quarry. (One of these previously discovered megaliths, known as the Hajjar al-Hibla, or Stone of the Pregnant Woman, turned out to have a crack that would have impeded its transport.)

Van Ess added that the blocks were probably cut in much the same way as the masonry used in the Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct in southern France, with each piece split from a larger expanse of limestone along natural fissures between the rock strata. Too heavy to lift, the blocks would then have been dragged from the quarry, probably using a capstan, a kind of human-driven winch—though the possibility of a sledge is also under discussion.

LebaneseBlogs 2014 Stats: I Am Lebanon’s Most Prolific Blogger And BlogBaladi Has The Highest #1 Posts in 2014

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My favorite Lebanese aggregator [LebaneseBlogs] just released its stats for 2014 and sorted them into five different top lists:

Lebanon’s 20 Most Shared posts on Facebook.
Lebanon’s 20 most shared posts on Twitter.
Lebanon’s most viral blogger.
Lebanon’s most prolific blogger.
Lebanon’s blog of the year.

BlogBaladi was featured in three of five categories and I got named Lebanon’s most prolific blogger with over 1500 posts last year. The blog also got an honorary mention as the one with the highest number of #1 posts in 2014. The great thing about these lists is that they are based on hard data and you could learn a lot from them. For instance, even though I got the highest number of #1 posts (not sure how many), the blog’s virality percentage is around 22% probably because I tend to post a lot and within minutes. Similarly, I’ve always underestimated Facebook’s importance until mid this year and started investing more time on it.

All in all, it’s very hard to compare blogs between each other but these stats are the closest thing we have to an objective review so I will make use of them to improve things and wipe all the awards next year hopefully :D

Check out all the lists [Here].

Thanks Mustapha for the effort and honorary mention and congrats for all the winners!

blog of the year

Lebanon’s New Driving Law To Be Implemented In 2015

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new sys

We’ve been hearing about a new traffic and driving law for quite some time in Lebanon, and it looks like the authorities will start implementing it as of next year. The new law is designed to reduce Lebanon’s high rate of traffic accidents and will include the points system for drivers, the establishment of traffic schools, a national council for traffic safety and a special traffic unit of the Internal Security Forces. Every driver will start with 12 points which will be deducted based on the severity of the violation. YASA and Roads for Life were among the many organizations who pushed for issuing this new law.

Personally speaking, Lebanon needed a new traffic law and I am glad we have a new decent one but the problem remains the same: Who will implement it?

People have been sharing the new fines to be implemented (see above) and I think that’s the wrong way to start. The aim should be to raise awareness among Lebanese drivers not collect more fines from them, and this strategy has already failed when Ziad Baroud tried to implement it. More importantly, establishing a decent and non-corrupt special traffic unit in EVERY area in Lebanon is a must before implementing any traffic law. If the cops don’t respect the law no one will. Maybe a good way to avoid bribery and corruption would be to issue the fines electronically.

In all cases, I didn’t hear any official statement yet from the ISF or the Ministry of Interior so let’s wait and see what’s gonna happen.

Week9: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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llb1 Mzaar – By ZeidBteich

Don’t forget to tag #Livelovebeirut for the best Christmas pictures from around Lebanon during this month. You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram [Here]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [Here] if you like.

llb2 Here’s the story behind the pie – Picture by Tamanna

llb3 That view – by Sacha

llb4 Christmas lights – by Kali

llb5 Beirut by the one and only RogerMoukarzel

Pick Up Your Christmas Ball At Le Gray Beirut To Help Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon

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20141219_183344 (1)

If you happen to pass by Le Gray Hotel next week, go in and check out their Christmas tree in the lobby. They have Christmas balls signed by the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon that you can take in exchange of any donation you wish to give. Once you take the ball and place the donation inside the box, replace it with a plain ball from the wooden basket on the floor.

It’s a simple and easy way to help out children in need during Christmas.


Hiba Tawaji Doesn’t Need To Go To The Voice

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Hiba is a very talented singer but I don’t know if it’s good idea to take part in the Voice, specially after what happened with Aline Lahoud and Anthony Touma. The judges are very random and she might lose out because of that, not because she’s not talented enough.

Anyway, that doesn’t mean that I am not excited about her participation and I will be encouraging her all the way till the end.


Who Wants The PS4 20th Anniversary Edition?

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You can still enter the draw to win the PS4 20th Anniversary Edition. Here what you need to do:

1- Follow SonyLebanon on Instagram.
2- Check the questions shown [here] and answer correctly under the original post not this one.

The questions are very easy and the gift is priceless!

You need to answer all three questions by commenting on the blog post and get at least two of them correctly. Please make sure to mention your instagram username in the comment. The competition will end on Wednesday 25th of December at 10 am. All valid names will be compiled into one list and Sony Lebanon & I will draw and announce the lucky winner on Thursday 26th of December 2014.

Lebanese Consume More Wine Than Beer But Are Not Drinking Enough

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booz leb

According to BBC’s Booz calculator, the average resident of Lebanon drinks a total of about 2.4 liters of pure alcohol a year, making it the 39th lightest-drinking country. The lightest-drinking country in the world is Kuwait with 0.1 liters while Belarus is the heaviest-drinking country with 17.5 liters.

A Lebanese person drinks on average 15 pints of beer, 33 glasses of wine and 126 shots per year. Moreover and based on a survey data published by the WHO, “about 0% of men in Lebanon had drunk heavily on at least one occasion in month before the survey, compared with about 0% of women. The global average is 12.3% for men and 2.9% for women”. Add to that the fact that 90% of those surveyed in Lebanon reported that they had not touched a drop of alcohol in the previous 12 months. The global average is 61.7%.

The numbers are a bit too low for Lebanon probably because they surveyed the wrong people in the wrong area but I don’t think we are heavy drinkers in this country, even if we pretend to be so. What would be interesting is to see is a comparison between alcohol and arguile consumption over the past 5 years.

Check out the WHO full report [Here].