Workers uncover Roman mosaic in Baalbek market

Workers uncover Roman mosaic in Baalbek market
Workers excavating a commercial market in Baalbek, northeast of Beirut, on Tuesday found a mosaic dating back to the historic city’s Roman occupation. (NNA)
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Updated 23 December 2020

Workers uncover Roman mosaic in Baalbek market

Workers uncover Roman mosaic in Baalbek market
  • The two-meter-long artifact was uncovered under a municipality building by a team of workers from the Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training
  • The city’s mayor called on state authorities “to give Baalbek more care and attention”

BEIRUT: Workers excavating a commercial market in Baalbek, northeast of Beirut, on Tuesday found a mosaic dating back to the historic city’s Roman occupation between 60 B.C. and A.D. 300.
The two-meter-long artifact was uncovered under a municipality building by a team of workers from the Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training who were carrying out excavations to extend a drainage network.
A technical team from the Directorate General of Antiquities in Baalbek protected the colored mosaic with sand and special geotextile covering.
City Mayor Fouad Blog said: “Baalbek is one of the most important cities in Lebanon and, indeed, the world because of its archaeological monuments and riches dating back to the Phoenician, Roman, Greek, Byzantine, Arabic and Islamic eras.”
He called on state authorities “to give Baalbek more care and attention, and to meet our vision with a strategic plan to search for lost treasures, and highlight the cultural, human and civilizational value of the city.”
Baalbek was famous throughout the ages due to its location at the intersection of several major trading routes. The Romans built huge temples, the ruins of which are still perched on the edge of the city after an earthquake around 600 A.D. destroyed many landmarks. The Temple of Jupiter, one of the most imposing Roman sites, has only six of its original 54 columns remaining.
Dr. Jaafar Fadlallah, professor of archaeology, told Arab News: “The Lebanese should not be surprised by the antiquities that can be found in Baalbek. The extent of the ancient city is not known yet. No one knows where the graveyards of that era are located.”
He added: “The colored mosaic found on Tuesday indicates that the place was a huge hall within a Roman palace. Roman Baalbek was inhabited by many emperors, and it is rich with the distinctive architecture that surrounded the ancient temples.”
Fadlallah said that during the second half of the 20th century, the Department of Antiquities failed to stop people building on land that could be rich in antiquities.
During the civil war in the 1970s, people built on archaeological sites in violation of the law. Any excavation work “could reveal buried monuments,” he added.


Hundreds protest police repression in Tunisia

Hundreds protest police repression in Tunisia
Updated 32 min 51 sec ago

Hundreds protest police repression in Tunisia

Hundreds protest police repression in Tunisia
  • Saturday’s protests come as the North African nation struggles to stem the novel coronavirus pandemic
  • The government on Saturday extended a night-time curfew from 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) to 5 a.m. and banned gatherings until February 14

TUNIS: Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Tunisian cities on Saturday to protest police repression, corruption and poverty, following several nights of unrest marked by clashes and arrests.
Saturday’s protests come as the North African nation struggles to stem the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has crippled the economy and threatened to overwhelm hospitals.
Over 6,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Tunisia, with a record 103 deaths reported on Thursday.
The government on Saturday extended a night-time curfew from 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) to 5 a.m. and banned gatherings until February 14.
But protesters took to the streets in several parts of the country, including the capital Tunis and the marginalized interior region of Gafsa, to demand the release of hundreds of young people detained during several nights of unrest since January 14.
“Neither police nor Islamists, the people want revolution,” chanted demonstrators in a crowd of several hundred in Tunis, where one person was wounded in brief clashes amid a heavy police presence.
Protests were also held in the coastal city of Sfax on Friday.
Much of the unrest has been in working class neighborhoods, where anger is boiling over soaring unemployment and a political class accused of having failed to deliver good governance, a decade after the 2011 revolution that toppled long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Economic misery exacerbated by novel coronavirus restrictions in the tourism-reliant nation have pushed growing numbers of Tunisians to try to leave the country.
“The situation is catastrophic,” said Omar Jawadi, 33, a hotel sales manager, who has been paid only half his salary for months.
“The politicians are corrupt, we want to change the government and the system.”
The police have said more than 700 people were arrested over several nights of unrest earlier this week that saw young people hurl rocks and petrol bombs at security forces, who responded with tear gas and water cannon.
Human rights groups on Thursday said at least 1,000 people had been detained.
“Youth live from day to day, we no longer have hope, neither to work nor to study — and they call us troublemakers!” said call center worker Amine, who has a degree in aerospace engineering.
“We must listen to young people, not send police in by the thousands. The whole system is corrupt, a few families and their supporters control Tunisia’s wealth.”
Tunisia last week marked one decade since Ben Ali fled the country amid mass protests, ending 23 years in power.
Tunisia’s political leadership is divided, with Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi waiting for parliament to confirm a major cabinet reshuffle announced last Saturday.