Looted Sculptures from Palmyra Returned to Syria

In 2009 or 2010, three looted sculptures were taken from the ancient city of Palmyra. Several years later, customs officers in Switzerland seized them at a Geneva freeport. At last, they’re heading home to Syria, the Art Newspaper reports.

The three sculptures date back to the second and third centuries B.C.E., when Palmyra was still a nexus of trade, possibly during the rule of Queen Zenobia. One of the sculptures is a bust of a priest wearing a ceremonial headpiece. The sculpture was badly damaged by the looters when they removed it from the site, as the head once had a body as well. Experts have developed some hypotheses about which statue the head belongs to, but there has not been any confirmation. The other two sculptures are funerary reliefs, one of a woman and one of a man, both flanked by an animal holding a ring in its mouth.

The sculptures were looted before the start of the Civil War in Syria. Looted objects from ancient sites like Palmyra were known to be major sources of funds for terrorist groups. Artifacts stolen by ISIS flooded the antiquities market during the height of the group’s power. Along with looting, ISIS made a concerted effort to destroy pre-Islamic artifacts, as well as much of Palmyra, in what has been called cultural genocide. The return of these artifacts from Palmyra represents one of the first steps toward healing the wounds of these enormous losses.

In 2017, the looted artifacts were displayed at the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva to raise awareness about the harm of looting. In 2020, the United Nations held a tribunal and it is there that Syrian authorities claimed the pieces and asked that they be restituted. The statues were held at the Musée d’art et d’histoire for safekeeping until the hand off.

When the artifacts were discovered in Geneva, authorities learned that they had been shipped from Qatar. The sculptures were found along with other looted artifacts from Libya and Yemen. The statues were handed over to Syria’s permanent mission at the United Nations last week.

Share This Post:

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

On Key

Related Posts

The Jaw-Dropping Photography by Kaiyhun

I’m loving these amazing images by Vancouver-based photographer Kaiyhun, including the mesmerizing ‘Waves & Whales’ series produced in collaboration with Matt Walch. More: Kaiyhun, Instagram, Matt Walch

Found Photos Show Fashion Styles of ’80s Young Women

Fashion of the 1980s placed heavy emphasis on cheap clothes and fashion accessories and very big poofy hair. Apparel tended to be very bright and vivid in appearance. Punk fashion began as a reaction against both the hippie movement of the past decades and the materialist values of the current decade. h/t: vintag.es The first

Awesome LEGO-Inspired Artworks of Jaime Sanchez

Spanish 3D artist Jaime Sanchez creates clever digital artworks inspired by LEGO bricks. “I’m an art director and 3D artist. I create artworks for contemporary galleries and international brands.” More: Instagram, Behance

Scroll to Top

ARE YOU IN?

Yes! Sign me up for AFYC's weekly newsletter featuring valuable info for artists, nonprofits, upcoming contests, and our new product offerings.

Count Me In!