Loss, Recuperation, and Identity

onfils/Gateway to the Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
A day's journey from Beirut stand the monumental Roman ruins at Baalbek. This photograph by Félix Bonfils records one of the earliest interventions to preserve the ancient architecture of the site. The keystone of the gateway of the Temple of Bacchus had threatened to collapse for centuries; the British consul ordered the installation of the brick support in about 1870. The striking image of the falling keystone also appears in eighteenth-century illustrations of the site and is suggestive of the inevitable destruction of a once-powerful empire.