DAMACUS, Oct 7 (XINHUA/APP):Syria’s National Museum on Monday put on display an ancient mosaic painting that has recently been retrieved from Canada through a Syrian expatriate.
The National Museum invited Damascus-based journalists on Monday to cover the replacement of the mosaic painting back into the museum.
According to information provided by the museum, the painting, which is 347 cm tall and 273.5 cm wide and features two lambs surrounded by big circles containing the drawing of various types of birds, dates back to the 5th century, but it’s not yet known where exactly it was discovered in Syria.
Some information indicates that it might have been a part of a church or a monastery’s floor that could have existed in northwestern Syria.
This historic piece was plundered from Syria alongside other artifacts and smuggled to Canada in the 90s of the last century. At the time, around 34 historic Syrian pieces were found in the Montreal Museum.
Through discussion, the Syrian side retrieved all stolen artifacts that were found in Montreal and as a show of gratitude, the Syrian side allowed the Montreal Museum to showcase the two-part mosaic painting on condition of returning it to Syria in 2011.
However, the Canadian side refused to send the painting back to Syria in 2011, citing the beginning of the war in the country.
Most recently, a Syrian expatriate served as a mediator and got back the painting to Syria.
Mahmoud Hammoud, Syrian director general of museums and antiquities, on Monday said that hundreds of thousands of Syrian artifacts have been smuggled out of the country during the war through illegal excavation by the rebels.
“The quantities of the artifacts that have been plundered from our countries are estimated at hundreds of thousands and the hard part is that they are undocumented and that’s why they are hard to be restored and thus we have lost a lot of our national heritage,” Hammoud said.
Tawfiq al-Imam, assistant culture minister, told reporters that the Syrian government is determined to bring back the stolen artifacts.
“Today we recovered this mosaic painting…and we also plan to retrieve what has been plundered of artifacts to put them back in our national museums because these artifacts are the legacy and heritage of Syria,” he said.