September 07, 2016

Lost Knowledge

While hanging around Mount Hermon, we visited the temple of Ain Hirsh. It is an impressive one. Impressive in the sense that it is almost intact. The roof is missing and the floor has caved in, but the walls are in place. It is a small one, and rather isolated, which mean you’re almost always the only one there.

What I also find impressive is– just coming out of Europe – that it doesn’t have a fence. There is no entrance fee, no line up to enter, and no little pamphlets that will explain its origin. Partially due to the dense population in Europe, you will rarely see ancient monuments that are not exploited. Here you can walk around, touch it, climb on it, and look in every nook and cranny.

It’s on a mountain side, high above the village of Ain Hirsh, and stands there, abandoned for over hundreds of years. An inscription sort of dates it back to AD114, but it may have been built before that time, and was probably abandoned in the fourth century when christianity replaced the ancient religion of the Roman Empire.

To the ancestral god, Alexander, son of Alexander, following a vow, with his wife, for his children, has raised this altar, year 429.” This year corresponds to the year 114/115 A.D (Link)

Why they would built so many (there are over 30 around Mount Hermon) of these sanctuaries way up high, sometimes surrounded by sarcophagi, is unknown. It’s amazing, and a bit scary too, how all this knowledge can just disappear. The mountain used to be considered holy, (‘the semantic field to which ‘hermon’ belonged covered the notions of ‘forbidden’ and ‘sacred’. Link) but that is how far as it goes.

No idea why around the mountain, what for, why this particular place, who paid for it, who worshiped here, nothing.  All that’s left are the stones. And lost knowledge.


Anonymous said...

Nice info! I'm of lebanese origin and didn't know this place even existed.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sietske:

Glad you are back and posting! This is a beautiful area to hike in, so peaceful and undeveloped. I went with LibanTrek here in the spring. Did you see the sundial? Looking forward to more of your posts!