ROME, FEBRUARY 26 – Two sculptures from the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, disfigured by ISIS fighters armed with hammers, have been painstakingly repaired by Italian restoration experts. The funerary busts of a man and a woman were among a trove of artifacts spirited out of Palmyra by Khalid al-As’ad, the site’s head of antiquities, in an attempt to save them from complete destruction as ISIS terrorists occupied the region in 2015.
“The two busts are the only sculptures to leave the area of conflict, not to be looted but to be restored”, Rutelli underlined, paying tribute to Al-As’ad: “Italy wanted to maintain the request of the martyr of Palmyra, Khaled al-As’ad, who refused to collaborate with terrorists,” Rutelli said. Now head of the cultural heritage organization Meeting of Civilizations Association, the former Minister added that ISIS had “ravaged [Palmyra’s] museums with the purpose to destroy.”
The busts were brought to Italy via Beirut and restored free of charge by experts of the Istituto Centrale del Restauro with the organization Equilibrarte. “In the past, in a restoration process like this one, the entire damaged area would have been removed and reconstructed. In our case, we did not modify the original part of the sculpture in any way,”Antonio Iaccarino, from Equilibrarte, told CNN, explaining the new techniques used in the work. Reassembled elements of the statue were created by mirroring the artifact using nylon powder and then stamping them with a 3-D printer.
The statues, which date back to the second and third century, had been on display between October to December with replicas of other damaged artifacts from Syria and Iraq in a UNESCO-sponsored exhibition at Rome’s Coliseum. The plan is to one day return the salvaged sculptures to their rightful places in Palmyra, “when it will be deemed safe,” Rutelli said. (@OnuItalia)