Archaeologists restore ancient Palmyra artefacts in Damascus museum

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A specialist works on a damaged statue from Palmyra at Syria's National Museum of Damascus, Syria January 9, 2019. Picture taken January 9, 2019. (Reuters)
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A specialist works on a damaged statue from Palmyra at Syria's National Museum of Damascus, Syria January 9, 2019. Picture taken January 9, 2019. (Reuters)
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Specialists work on damaged statues from Palmyra at Syria's National Museum of Damascus, Syria January 9, 2019. Picture taken January 9, 2019. (Reuters)
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A specialist works on a damaged statue from Palmyra at Syria's National Museum of Damascus, Syria January 9, 2019. Picture taken January 9, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 10 January 2019
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Archaeologists restore ancient Palmyra artefacts in Damascus museum

  • Centuries-old statues and sculptures were wrecked by the extremists when they twice seized control of the old city

DAMASCUS: In the National Museum of Damascus, archaeologist Muntajab Youssef works on an ancient stone bust from Palmyra, one of hundreds of artefacts his team is painstakingly restoring after they were damaged by Daesh.
Centuries-old statues and sculptures were wrecked by the extremists when they twice seized control of the old city in central Syria during the country’s war, which will go into its ninth year in March.
The 1,800-year-old bust of a bejewelled and richly clothed woman, The Beauty of Palmyra, was damaged during the first offensive on the city by Daesh fighters in 2015.
After Syrian government forces took back the city with Russian military support in March 2016, the bust, alongside other damaged ancient monuments, was taken to Damascus and archived in boxes. When restoration work on it began last year, Youssef said it was in pieces.
“The hands and face were lost completely, also parts of the dress and there are areas that are weaker,” Youssef, who has been working on the bust for two months, said.
Youssef is one of 12 archaeologists working on the arduous restoration job, which first began with the of moving the damaged pieces to Damascus.
Mamoun Abdulkarim, the former Head of Syrian Antiquities, said that in some cases broken artefacts were transported in empty ammunition boxes provided by the Syrian army in Palmyra.
How many artefacts there are in total is difficult to say, given the state they were found in.
The lack of documentation for the artefacts also adds to the restoration challenge.
“A big part of the documentation in the Palmyra museum, was damaged with the antiquities and computers,” archaeologist Raed Abbas said. “A statue needs pictures ... in order to be rebuilt.”


Yemeni spokesman says militants seek to ignite Hodeidah fighting

Updated 21 March 2019
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Yemeni spokesman says militants seek to ignite Hodeidah fighting

  • Renewed fighting in Hodeidah would risk severing the main passage for humanitarian aid
  • A senior Houthi member earlier said a withdrawal is “impossible”

CAIRO: Yemen’s militants are igniting more conflict by their refusal to give up control of the key port city of Hodeida, the focus of months of UN-brokered talks, a government spokesman said.
Renewed fighting in Hodeidah would risk severing the main passage for humanitarian aid to the rest of the country, including northern Yemen, a heartland of the Houthi militants.
Rageh Badi, spokesman for the internationally recognized Yemen government, denounced remarks by senior militant leader Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi who earlier this week told The Associated Press that the Saudi-led coalition, which backs the government side in the conflict, is trying to change the terms of the agreement struck last year in Sweden and that a militant withdrawal would therefore be “impossible.”
Badi told reporters at a press conference Wednesday in the southern city of Aden that such remarks could set off renewed fighting in Hodeidah, the key entry point for international aid to the war-torn country, and violate the tentative peace agreement reached by the two sides in Sweden.
The remarks are a “renunciation of the Hodeidah agreement and a declaration of war,” Badi said, urging the UN to step up pressure on the rebels to prevent another “explosion of the situation” in Hodeidah. Otherwise, renewed fighting is just a “few days” away, he added.