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Ain-Harcha Temple

Rashaya District

· Bekaa

Ain-Harsha village houses a Roman sanctuary, bordered by remnants of an old settlement and a necropolis.

Date

Carved on a stone in Latin inscription, the construction of the temple is attested to the year 116 AD.

The inscription states the following: "To the ancestral god, Alexandros son of Alexandros dedicated this altar at his expense, with his wife, for his children, in fulfillment of a wish, the year 226" (226 equals 116 during  the Sidonian era). 

Structure 

Open to the east, the temple rises on a high four-seat podium, and includes a pronaos (space of the temple’s entrance) and a cella (section where the deity is venerated) at the bottom of which is the platform of an adyton (sacred area inside the cella). 

Following the Ionic order, the structure is built in a distyle in antis design - a temple with the side walls extending to the front of the porch and terminating with two antae (doorway pillars), the pediment being supported by two pilasters (a rectangular column projecting from a wall). 

The temple’s interior podium has collapsed with time, while the ornaments and niches of the pronaos and the cella are degraded.  

Facing the temple’s entrance, a couple of rocks holding a Latin inscription can be noticed, as well as the foundations of other structures that can be the remains of an altar or a facility that was part of the sanctuary. 

On the southern side, and at the foot of the temple's fondations,  a couple of sarcophagus can be noticed, with one of them bearing beautiful bas-reliefs of what appears to be a person wearing a priestly tunic - possibly the tomb of the temple's priest?

Deity

On the southern side of the exterior façade, the pediment of the temple (triangular gable forming the end of the roof slope) is decorated with a bust of Luna, Goddess of the Moon. On the eastern side of the temple, a rock lays on the ground with a figure of Sol, God of the sun. 

These two figures,  reflect the cosmic character of the sanctuary and express the omnipotence of a deity sovereign.

 Accessibility 

After following the GPS location shared in this article, visitors should take a 30min walk up the mountain on a clear open trail. Once you reach the old settlement, you can notice the temple to the east.

Scroll down to enjoy the pictures and to locate the site on the map.

Karim Sokhn Tour Operator & Tour Guide

References:

La vie Religieuse Au Liban Sous L'Empire Romain - Julien Aliquo

A section of the settlement and the necropolis 

The temple seen from different angles 

The pediment of the temple (South side) decorated with the bust of Luna (upper-middle bas-releif). Due to the heigh of the wall, a clearer picture of the bust was not possible.

The bas-releif of the Roman sun God Sol.

A sarcophagus with a decorated lintel: a figure dressed in preistly tunic - probably the temple priest?

"To the ancestral god, Alexandros son of Alexandros dedicated this altar at his expense, with his wife, for his children, in fulfillment of a wish, the year 226"

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