The book „The ruins of Balbec, otherwise Heliopolis in Coelosyria“, written by Robert Wood (1716/17 – 1771) and published 1757 in London contains a systematic documentation of the ancient ruins of Palmyra (Syria) and Baalbek (Lebanon).
The book has the size of 580mm x 390mm x 40mm, consists of 83 Pages, hosts 55 pictures, partly to unfold, and is structured in three main parts. The whole text is written as body-text and structured in paragraphs with little marks, functioning as subtitles, next to the text.
On the first 16 pages Robert Wood describes in his introduction the journey from Palmyra to Balbec and the ancient state of Balbec. Additionally, he gives more information and knowledge about the region and the historic sites shown in the book.
The second part is a listing of the plates (pictures) with additional information and description of the indices.
In the last part, only the pictures are shown without any additional text. They vary from the size of one page to a double page and some are even foldout spreads. This third part goes until the end of the book. The “Tabulae” are a mix of different scaled plans and views, including cut views and detailed close-ups of ancient temples, altars and temple complexes. Many of them have little numbers included, which are explained before and underline the systematic approach of the book to show these sites. This part of the book has no text, only the different scale pictures and their numbers. There is no ending or conclusion written as text.
The strict structure of the book in text and pictures underlines its documentary approach and gives the pictures, especially through their size, most of the attention. Apart from the first sheets, the book cannot be fully understood by looking at one page after another, but rather has to be understood while jumping back and forth.