environment-explosion-research-Lebanon-heritage-history-museum New life for antiquities destroyed by Beirut explosion =(Photo+Video)=
London, August 24, 2022 (AFP) – Shattered during the explosion that devastated Beirut in 2020, delicate glass vessels that date back to antiquity for some have been restored to their integrity after hard work at the British Museum, where they will be exhibited. “It’s a story of near destruction, restoration, resilience and collaboration,” Hartwig Fischer, director of Britain’s famed cultural institution, said on Wednesday. “Two years after the explosion in Beirut, we are delighted to put these old glass containers on display,” which will then return to Lebanon at the end of the year, she added. These pieces, jars but also colorful utensils, were in a display case at the American University of Beirut (AUB) when the shock wave from the explosion in the port, 3 km away, knocked it down. Of the 74 fallen pieces, only two were recovered intact. Specialists have restored 26 of them, including the eight on display. Experts hope to soon rehabilitate at least half of the remaining 46. The British Museum and AUB began collaborating on this project in 2021. A colossal task: each tiny glass fragment had to be sorted to determine if it was a remnant of the exhibits… or the display case that contained them. A classification “made by eye and by hand”, looking at “the appearance of the surface and the shape of the glass”, explained Duygu Camurcuoglu, curator of the British Museum. And that’s when he started rebuilding all these giant puzzles, using an adhesive. The most difficult were “the large plate and the Byzantine jug,” he recalled. The curators agreed on the need to restore the structural integrity of the vessels. But they decided not to remove the cracks and aesthetic imperfections of the reconstructed objects, to bear witness to the tragedy of August 4, 2020 that left more than 200 dead, 6,500 injured and devastated entire neighborhoods. The exhibition at the British Museum will show the stages traveled by the objects, from their destruction to their arrival in the display cases. “The patient reconstruction of these containers from very small pieces has made it possible to recognize their historical value”, greeted Nadine Panayot, curator of the AUB archaeological museum, evoking “a healing process (which) also made me give hope in a future better”. These objects, the fruit of Greek, Byzantine but also Islamic know-how, illustrate the evolution of glassblowing techniques in the Middle East. jwp/tq/mm

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