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A mosaic amidst the ashes of war.

Syria has revealed the discovery of a magnificent 1,300 square-foot Roman mosaic, the nation's first significant archaeological find since the ongoing civil conflict started there in 2011. The artefacts were discovered in Rastan, a city that up until 2018 was governed by rebel organisations.

Over the previous 11 years, significant cultural heritage sites have been destroyed around the country, and in 2015, the Islamic State completely destroyed the ancient art in Palmyra after the city came under assault. Throughout the Syrian Civil War, the Islamic State and other groups participated in massive antiquities looting; some of these artefacts have since been sold all over the world. Despite the attempt to sell the mosaic, residents and archaeologists like Dr. Humam Saad safeguarded it.


The mosaic was uncovered in a fourth-century building, but researchers don’t know what the building was used for.

In the central town of Rastan, which lies near Homs, Syria's third-largest city, the mosaic was shown to journalists.

The find was mistakenly reported by the Associated Press and other news outlets to show the Roman god Neptune with his 40 girlfriends, as well as Hercules killing the Amazon queen Hippolyta. In reality, it depicts the events of the Trojan War, when the Amazons arrived in Troy to protect the city from the Greeks. The fabled Amazons were powerful female fighters, and Hercules was responsible for the death of their chief, Hyppolita. Same god, different names—Poseidon or Neptune—with the first name being Greek and the latter being Roman. Only a few Neptune's, like Galatia, are visible in the mosaic. It is important for these journalists to prevent misleading by conducting better investigation and double-checking their sources because the depiction of the mosaic and its characters, Neptune and his 40 lovers, is a far cry from the truth.

But I'll spotlight the details of the mosaic rather than concentrate on the journalistic failure. As a result, the mosaic can be divided in half or, for better impact, into two rings.

The inner circle of the mosaic.

Two sceneries can be seen in the mosaic's central inner circle, as depicted in the image. The first involves Hercules murdering the Amazon warrior Hippolyta. The second portrays Achilles executing Penthecilia. A second Amazonian warrior. However, there is more detail here. We may discern the Greek term "pothos," which can be interpreted as passion, between the names of Achilles and Penthecilia, together with a Cupid, the Roman love emblem still in use today. Even though this word has a nuanced meaning, Plato frequently uses it in his dialogues. The love story between Achilles and Penthecylia is depicted in the mosaic. According to the tale, after murdering Penthecilia and seeing her face after her helmet had fallen to the ground, Achilles fell in love with her right away and was heartbroken that he had done so. This portion of the myth has an intriguing tale about how two warriors fell in love during battle, especially after just one of them had been killed.

the outer circle of the mosaic.

The remainder of the battle between certain second and first-tier characters can be seen in the mosaic's outer circle. like the Trojan Prince Paris, who has abducted Helen's husband Menelaus.

Next, what?

Even though many older pieces of art perished during the Syrian Civil War, this incredible mosaic did. Famous Syrian actress and Nabu Museum board member Sulaf Fawakherji revealed her wish to buy other buildings in Rastan, which she claims is teeming with unknown cultural heritage sites and artefacts. There are further structures, and it is clear that the mosaic extends far beyond, Fawkherji told the AP. Given its rich history, Rastan has the potential to become a popular heritage vacation destination. Because Syria has acted as a "melting pot" for many civilizations over the years, including the Canaanites, the Umayyads, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Byzantines, it is home to an abundance of archaeological treasures. Unfortunately, many of these artefacts were lost due to the war that broke out in 2011. The Umm al-Zinar Church in Homs was burned down, the Khalid Ibn al-Walid Mosque was demolished, and Rastan's mosaics were stolen.


Written by Sergios Saropoulos

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