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.”


Kushner: Trump wants fair deal for Palestinians

Updated 56 min 43 sec ago
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Kushner: Trump wants fair deal for Palestinians

  • Fighting new economic plan ‘a strategic mistake,’ White House adviser says
  • Says plan would double Palestinian GDP in 10 years, create over a million jobs

MANAMA, Bahrain: Donald Trump wants a fair deal for Palestinians, the US president’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said on the eve of the launch in Bahrain of the White House’s $50 billion “peace for prosperity” plan.

The Palestinians are missing an opportunity to participate in the Middle East peace process by boycotting the Bahrain conference, Kushner said. “This is a strong package that has been put together. Fighting it instead of embracing it, I think, is a strategic mistake.”

The plan proposes a global investment fund for Palestine and neighboring Arab states, and a $5 billion transport corridor between the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian leaders have rejected it, but Kushner said their criticism was “more emotional than specific.”

“Nobody has refuted our core premise that this would do a lot to stimulate the economy,” he said. “The Palestinian people have been trapped in a situation for a long time and we wanted to show them, and their leadership, that there is a pathway forward that could be quite exciting.”

The Palestinian people have been trapped in a situation for a long time and we wanted to show them, and their leadership, that there is a pathway forward that could be quite exciting.

Jared Kushner, US president’s adviser

Kushner said Trump decisions such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv were evidence that the president kept his promises.

“The Palestinians might not have liked his Jerusalem decision, but he made a promise and he did it,” he said. What the president wanted now was “to give the Palestinian people a fair solution.”

Kushner said the plan would double the GDP in 10 years, create over a million jobs, reduce poverty by 50 percent and bring unemployment to below 10 percent.

“We believe this doable,” he said. “It’s hard, but if there’s a peace agreement and we set up the right structure, we think it could really lead to improving people’s lives in a substantial way.

“I think there is a lot of enthusiasm in the West Bank and Gaza to see if we can find a political solution so that this can be implemented.”

The political element of the White House plan has been delayed by uncertainty in Israel, where there will be elections this year after an earlier vote failed to produce a stable coalition, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may also face a criminal trial for corruption.