Faqra, Tower of Claudius

Faqra: site of several Roman monuments on the western slopes of the Lebanon Mountains.

The Tower of Claudius

On a local summit, known today as Faqra, at least four ancient "tower altars" can be identified. The largest of these is called the Tower of Claudius: it is a cube-like structure of 16 x 16 meters that is almost ten meters high.The amount of stones surrounding this monument is sufficient proof to deduce that it once must have had a considerable superstructure.

The name "Tower of Claudius" is derived from two inscriptions. The first of these can be found above the door:

Inscription above the door
Αὐτοκράτορι Τιβερίωι Κλαυδίωι Καίσαρι
Σεβαστῶι και θ[εῶι] πατ[ρώι Βε]ελγαλασωι
ἐπὶ Γαίου Κα…
To the emperor Tiberius Claudius Caesar
and the ancestral god Beelgalasos,
under Gaius Ca(ssius) ...

The second one is next to the door and offers a date in the Seleucid Era that can be converted to the year 43/44 in our own era.

ENT ἐπὶ Θολου
Ραββομου ἐπιμε-
λητοῦ ἐκ τῶν τοῦ
μεγίστου θεοῦ ώκοδο-
In 355, Tholos,
son of Rabbomus, the pres-
ident, at the
great god's expenses he
built this
Inscription near the door

The monument is essential a large platform (a "high place of worship"), where large animals could be sacrificed. This means that the platform had to be accessible, and there are indeed stairs inside the large stone cube. More famous examples of this type of structure are the altar-towers in the Great Court in front of the Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek.

The platform itself shows traces of pillars and the pedestals of two statues, so we may assume that there was a second storey: a kind of loggia, with a ceiling that we can no longer reconstruct. The statues must have represented the emperor Claudius and Beelgalasus (a supreme god).