Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Roman Mosaic Painting in Sweida , One of the Most Beautiful and Unique Paintings in Syria

SANA, Syria

SWEIDA, (SANA)- The mosaic painting discovered 2006 within a basalt stone-built chamber in a house in al-Majdal town to the west of Sweida city in southern Syria raised questions regarding its peculiarity and the extent of its connection with the nearby archeological complex in the town that includes Byzantine and Roman buildings.

One can see in the 303 and 370 cm painting, despite being damaged in more than one part, an ornamental frame on two sides that is decorated with flora and fauna objects as well as scenes of children onboard small boats catching fish and birds, with four shapes of naked women inside the painting.

Mohannad al-Tawil, head of the Restoration Division at Sweida Archeology Department, said the excavations works conducted in the place where the painting was discovered reveal that the painting constitutes a floor for a house which probably was a part of an archeological bath dating back to the Roman Age.

He pointed out that the painting then was covered with a layer of soil, sand and sawdust to be later uncovered in 2010 when it was perfectly cleaned up to be documented.

The painting's area was divided into a number of squares, each was shot alone. The photos were later processed with special programs to get their regular dimensions and were then collected, glued together and processed, so that a corrected image of the whole painting was reached that was used to study its physical and constructional status. 

The physical study, al-Tawil said, showed damage to several parts of the mosaic painting, which required conducting restoration works represented in cleaning the painting's surface, sustaining its edges and relocating the separated cubes.

The painting was later reburied in a modern and methodological way to protect it, and the chamber's zinc roof was covered with nylon to prevent leak of rainwater as much as possible.

Al-Tawil highlighted the importance of preparing a study of the site where the painting was unearthed and linking it to the neighboring archeological discoveries; a church, a cemetery and a Roman house.

He pointed out to the participation with the painting work project in the 11th International Mosaic Conference held in the Moroccan city of Meknes in 2011 for the protection and preservation of Mosaic, which was organized by the international ICCM organization that is devoted to mosaic conservation.

He hailed the approval and praise the project received from the participant experts and organizers , as it was displayed in the same year in Rome at ICCROM, an international organization dedicated to the conservation of cultural heritage, and will be soon published by the ICCM.

The date of the mosaic painting, according to Ashraf Abu Turabeh from the team of Sweida Archeology Department, goes back to the Roman period based on the artistic aspect related to the nature of naked women subject as well as on the technical aspect in terms of the small size of the cubes and their precise insertion into the painting.

Abu Turabeh noted that the painting was made of lime and marble cubes, green, red and black, on a white background as well as of red and yellow pottery, adding that the painting is one of the most beautiful and unique mosaic paintings in Syria whose subject is derived from daily life.

H. Said