Swiss newspaper hails cooperation with Syria in recovering looted Syrian artifacts

The Swiss “La Tribune de Genève” newspaper has published an article titled “Switzerland restores three looted artifacts to Syria” for writer Pascal Zimmermann, who specializes in antiquities and history.

In her article, the writer affirmed the importance of the cooperation that has been achieved in  restoring the archeological treasures looted during the crisis in Syria. She also reiterated the need to combat illicit trafficking in looted antiquities and to maintain international cooperation to restore these artifacts.

 Zimmermann sheds light on the efforts that have been exerted by Switzerland since it found out that looted artifacts from Syria, Libya and Yemen have entered the Swiss territories illegally.  She also highlighted Switzerland’s cooperation with Syria until these archeological pieces, looted from Palmyra city, were handed over to Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva Husam Eddin Ala on the 18th of this month.

 In her article, Zimmermann explained the artistic and historical importance of the artifacts and talked about the damage they were exposed to when they were stolen from their original archaeological site in Palmyra.

“The three looted pieces are two stone funerary sculptures representing a man and a woman and a priest’s statue which are all of great historical and artistic value," Zimmermann said.

She went on to say that the curator of the Museum of Art and History in Geneva Beatrice Blandin confirmed that an act of looting and piracy has occurred by saying: “the priest’s head was removed by a quarry. The harm done to the neck and back of the priest’s head indicates this. While the other two pieces are fragments of a sculpture that was separated with excessive force from a funerary plaque called the "Banquet".

She clarified that these artifacts go back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD and that they were handed over by the curator of the Museum of Art and History to the Syrian envoy in order to restore them to Syria.

Zimmermann indicated that in November 2016, the Swiss authorities confiscated nine looted artifacts, 3 of which belong to Syria, 5 to Yemen and one to Libya, and that these pieces remained with the Swiss public prosecutor until they were handed over to the Museum of Art and History.

Cooperation between Switzerland and Syria in recovering the looted Syrian Artifacts is an example to follow, she concluded.

Hamda Mustafa