The Lebanese Pyramid

A 135-kilometer drive away from Beirut and 50 kilometers from Baalbeck, stands magnificently the underrated 2200-year-old Pyramid of Hermel.

It has been suggested to date back to the second century BC due to its architectural resemblance to the tower tombs of the late Seleucid era in Palmyra, Syria. Other scholars have speculated it to be of Assyrian or Ancient Greek origin.

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While doing some research, I found a remarkable similarity between the “Qamoua of Hermel” and the “Mausoleum of Emesa”, a monument that formerly stood in the Necropolis of Tell Abu Sabun (modern-day Homs, Syria). The remains of that monument were blown up with dynamite in 1911 in order to make room for an oil depot. The two monuments were only 60 kilometers apart!

Locals claim that it gave its name to Hermel town, as it is attributed to the ancient Aramaic root “هرم أيل – Haram Ēl” which translates to “Pyramid of God”.

A relief on the north side of the pyramid depicts two deer, possibly caught in a hunting trap. On the east side is a carved image of a speared boar being attacked by dogs. The south side is badly damaged but shows an image considered possibly to be a bear. The relief on the west side shows a deer being attacked by a dog.

After being partially damaged by treasure hunters and earthquakes, the monument was restored in 1931 under the French Mandate, leaving a difference in hue between the original stones and those added during the restoration.

The Lebanese government issued two series of stamps honoring “Qamoua El Hermel”, the first in 1948 and the second during the excavation work in 1974.

Despite it being clearly visible from afar, the monument has been heavily vandalized by locals covering all the four faces of the base with graffiti. In 2007 and after several requests, the “Ministry of Culture” cleaned its base and built a fence to protect it. Unfortunately, it did not take long before it was full of graffiti all over again, as no serious measures have been taken to preserve it.

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