The winter snows,
Fighting the cement.
via Flickr http://flic.kr/p/nf5syt
When driving around the North mountains of Lebanon, I came through a long street on the side of the qannoubine valley, right after the army checkpoint of Tourza heading towars Seraal.
The road looks normal to the uninterested eye, but if you look closely at the sides of the cliff, you notice old staircases, where nature has once again claimed the space.
But the big question is: where do these staircases lead to?
If you ever decide to get out of your car and climb up these stairs, you’ll notice that they always end abruptly, with no sign of roads or way to follow being present anywhere. No indications whatsoever of there ever being a continuing route for those who used to use these stairs.
So why were they built? For what purpose? I’m not sure, but hey, all we can do is speculate; so here is my reasoning.
1- First choice being the abnormal holocaust type of thing; where spirits climb the stairs to reach the land of the dead (Doesn’t make much sense though does it?).
2- Second choice being a bunch of bored people that decided to build these stairs and left them in nature and time’s mercy, so that one day, people like you and me wonder where they came from and try to understand their purpose (but even that sounds pretty unlikely).
3- The third choice is the most logical one I found, it made sense in many ways, though at the same time this explanation didn’t fit all the staircases found.
When roads were first cut through mountains, donkey and pedestrian roads that used to go through the mountain were cut off. A way that most villagers used was to add stairs and trails so the commoners could still use them, even though a full functioning road was now present.
When following this logic in my mind I went out, and climbed the stairs, trying to find an escape trail that would lead from the end of the stairs into the cliff, in most of them the trail was eaten over by new trees, bushes, and moss. But some didn’t.
And I have to say the first option came drifting back into my mind as soon as I noticed some stairs ending with walls of mountain, untouched, with no sign of previous trail being even hinted by the environment; complete dead end roads; stairways to nowhere.
Having studied the environment over the years, I noticed that no significant land movement was recorded on these cliffs since the roads have been cut-out through them; so where did they used to lead to if there was, since back in the days, no roads or trails leading off the end of the last slab? The walls of the cliff have always been there, untouched, impossible to climb for the most, barely see through to the other side of the hill.
I will leave that to your imagination; after all, mine has been going through different scenarios over many years trying to decipher this mystery. But that’s the best part about it; it will probably always be a mystery.
Lebanon, land of the Cedar trees… More like WAS.
Brief history overview:
The farthest I’ve been in the mention of cedar trees over the years is 2500 BC, in the tablets of Gilgamesh [tablets 4, 5, and 6] where the cedar forest is considered as the realm of the gods of mesapotamian mythology. Namely known nowadays as the “cedars of God” aka “أرز الرب”.
There was one a time when cedar trees used to cover all the lands of lebanon (a very very long time ago), now barely any forests survived; most of which were turned into eco-areas. But even then they are not respected as they should be.
Though over the years people have tried new ways of preserving them, and sometimes replanting them. Unfortunately cedar trees [the original cedrus libani) cannot fully grow and develop majestically like it’s ancestors workout get mother and grandmother by her side, their roots stay linked hundreds of meters underground to form a single Web where all help each other in sharing nutrients and water.
Now I know I’ve gone a bit astray in history and biology; but this information is vital to explain my story.
Take the cedars forest mentioned in Gilgamesh’s tablets. The eldest one still
barely standing in lebanon. Their roots reach up to 400 meters underground in a calcarious rocky and dry area to reach the underground water bin.
In the 1800’s Queen Victoria commissioned a wall to be built around the forest to protect its seedlings from sheep grazing; and for the past 20 years more than 4000 cedars were planted in a half circular way surrounding the forest to help young seedlings reach a mother to grow tougher and reach maturity faster
Oh but wait! Here comes the surprise!
A couple of months ago a
well respected man decided to make his son’s wedding in the forest. After many complaints he agreed to simply build an amphitheatre next to it to hold the wedding party; unfortunately no one knew how close. ..
He partially destroyed a side of the ancient wall, adding to the fact that he built the whole thing in the middle of the new forest, severing the lines between mother and Child.
So I don’t know about you, but I honestly think the lebanese people should make a choice: either protect these majestic and rare creatures; or stumpy change the emblem of the lebanese flag.