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The Mysterious Caves of Wadi El-Habis

    Furzol, not far from Chtaura in the Beqaa, is a very ancient town. We know that in the 5th century it was the seat of Christian bishopric, but the town is certainly older than that; it goes back at least 2,000 years to Roman times.
    Before venturing to the caves just outside the town, look for the remains of a Roman temple near the central roundabout; here are the temple's foundation walls and some large stone blocks with carvings and inscriptions.
    To reach the caves of Wadi el-Habis (Valey of the Hermit) head through the town for about 11/2 km, keeping an eye out for the openings carved into the limestone cliff ahead.
    The caves occur at regular intervals and are partly natural, partly man-made. All are cut in the shape of a dome and most of them have a reservoir dug in the center, Look for a niche with a carved cone-like shape inside it. This probably represents a god sculpted in an archaic way according to local semitic tradition.
    On the right bank of the stream that runs through the site is a large square courtyard that has been cut into the rock. From here four steps used to lead to a room, also cut from the rock, Some say that this might have been a temple dedicated to the god baal.
    While exploring the caves, try to imagine what these chambers were used for thousands of years ago. We know that some were burial sites. Others might have been used for religious ceremonies or as residential quarters.
    If you have time, a 20-minute walk will bring you to an interesting rock carving. Start out about 100 meters before the caves, and turn left at the roadway. Using a large-faced rock as a landmark, head up towards the carving, which is of a horseman and a second figure. Although we don't know what they represent or how old they are, it is clear the carvings are quite old.
    From this spot you also get a good view of an ancient quarry on the next hill, where careful stone cutting has left behind what looks like an imaginary city built into the rock.

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