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Syria unearths ‘rarest’ ancient Roman-era mosaic near Homs 

October 13, 2022 at 12:57 pm

Syria unearths ‘rarest’ ancient Roman-era mosaic near Homs [@nabumuseum/twitter]

Archaeologists in Syria have discovered a massive, mostly intact mosaic dating back to the Roman era, which authorities have described as one of the “rarest” and the most important archaeological finds since the country’s conflict 11 years ago.

The mosaic, which includes Roman depictions of ancient Amazon warriors and scenes from the Trojan War was found in the former opposition stronghold in Rastan, near Homs and was reclaimed by government forces in 2018.

At 120 square metres (around 1,300 square feet), the mosaic was discovered in an old building that was being excavated by Syria’s General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums. Dr Hamam Saad, the associate director of excavation and archaeological research at the directorate told AP, “What is in front of us is a discovery that is rare on a global scale,” adding that the images are “rich in details”.

“We can’t identify the type of the building, whether it’s a public bathhouse or something else, because we have not finished excavating yet,” Saad said.

Lebanese and Syrian businessmen from the neighbouring country’s Nabu Museum reportedly purchased the property and donated it to the Syrian state.

Sulaf Fawakherji, a famous actress in Syria and a member of the Nabu Museum’s board of trustees said she hopes they could purchase other buildings in Rastan, which she says is filled with heritage sites and artefacts waiting to be discovered. “There are other buildings, and it’s clear that the mosaic extends far wider,” Fawkherji told the AP. “Rastan historically is an important city, and it could possibly be a very important heritage city for tourism.”

Much of Syria’s most famous historical landmarks, including the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, the Maarat Al-Numan Museum in Idlib and the ancient site of Palmyra are adorned with mosaics. The country was once considered to be an “archaeologist’s paradise” but after over a decade of conflict, parts of Syria’s heritage have been irreparably destroyed, including damage sustained to all six of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

“Unfortunately, there were armed groups that tried to sell the mosaic at one point in 2017 and listed it on social media platforms,” Dr Saad said.

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