External Affairs

Palmyra Statue Damaged by ISIS Goes on Display in Damascus

A view shows the damaged Lion of Al-Lat statue at the entrance of the museum of the historic city of Palmyra, after forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad recaptured the city, in Homs Governorate in this handout picture provided by SANA on March 27, 2016. Credit: Reuters

A view shows the damaged Lion of Al-Lat statue at the entrance of the museum of the historic city of Palmyra, after forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad recaptured the city, in Homs Governorate in this handout picture provided by SANA on March 27, 2016. Credit: Reuters

Damascus:  A 2,000-year old statue badly damaged by ISIS in Palmyra went on display on Sunday in Damascus after being restored.

The Lion of Al-Lat statue was one of several ancient monuments damaged by ISIS at Palmyra, the ancient city in central Syria which the jihadists have twice seized from government control during the six-year-long war.

The 15-tonne statue was damaged by ISIS in 2015 during its first spell in control of Palmyra. It was moved to Damascus for restoration when Syrian government forces recovered the city with Russian military support in March, 2016.

“It is an exceptional statue, there are no more such statues in Palmyra,” said Bartosz Markowski, the Polish archaeologist who spent around two months restoring it. Around half the restored statue was original, he said.

“It was an internationally known symbol of Palmyra, it was standing in front of the museum. Every tourist visiting Palmyra and the museum had a photo with it,” he said. The restoration was funded by the UN cultural agency UNESCO.

The statue, which is 345 centimetres (11 feet) high, was discovered at the temple of Al-Lat inPalmyra in 1977 by Polish archaeologists.

The statue will be on display at the National Museum of Damascus for the foreseeable future but may eventually be returned to its place in Palmyra, Mahmoud Hammoud, the director of Syrian antiquities, said.

ISIS also destroyed Palmyra‘s famous Triumphal Arch during its first spell in control of the city.

ISIS overran Palmyra for a second time in December, 2016. It destroyed parts of the Tetrapylon, a monument marking a bend in the ancient colonnade, and the facade of the second-century Roman Theatre before it was driven from the city in March this year.

(Reuters)