"Sublime technique makes Syrian mosaics
some of the greatest in the world"
24 March 2010
Hama governorate contains some of the most important mosaics in
Syria, with around 50% of uncovered mosaics, most significant of
which is "Tiba al-Imam," a 600 square meters mosaic dating
back to 242 AD.
Another mosaic housed at Hama National Museum is the "Musicians"
mosaic. This piece, measuring 4.25 meters by 5.37 meters, depicts
six female musicians and two children, in addition to old musical
instrument including an organ, cymbals, two flutes, a harp and an
Indian musical instrument consisting of metal bowls placed on a
In a statement to Syrian press, professor of mosaic restoration
at Athens University Stephania Chlouveraki underlined the strong
composition and accuracy of representation in the Musicians mosaic,
noting the small details such as attire, hair, braids, gentle smiles
and wide eyes.
Prof. Chlouveraki , who is a member of the team tasked with establishing
a lab for restoring mosaics in Hama National Museum, pointed out
that Hama governorate contains a very important mosaic dating back
to 362/363 AD depicting Socrates with six wise men standing around
This mosaic, which is displayed in Apamea Museum, was found beneath
the Great Catherdal and Apamea. It reflects the connection that
existed between the Syrian and Greek cultures.
The professor went on to discuss other important mosaics at Apamea
Museum, including a mosaic depicting a deer and another depicting
a beauty contest between nymphs. The latter mosaic, dating back
to 362/363 AD was found in Apamea in the Roman building on which
the Great Cathedral was built.
Prof. Chlouveraki said that Syrian mosaics are the richest and
greatest in the world due to their sublime technique, wealth of
human and natural subjects depicted in them, and their portrayal
of lifestyles across various periods, underlining the skill of ancient
Syrian craftsmen who were pioneer in this ancient art.
She stressed that Syrian mosaics are rare and unique archeological
finds, with their magnificent figures, enchanting designs, high
level of precision and skill, and the decorative elements that represent
important historic records and documents of various periods, adding
that Syria has a considerable and important reservoir of mosaics.
Regarding the project for documenting and restoring the mosaics
in Hama Museum, Prof. Chlouveraki said the first stage of the project
began in 2004 by documenting all mosaics in Syria, while the second
stage which is currently underway involves establishing a lab for
restoring mosaics in the museum that serves as a center for training
Syrian archeological restoration workers and students to restore
and preserve mosaics.
She pointed out that the project aims at spreading awareness on
how to properly handle mosaics, adding that staff from the General
Department of Archeology and Museum were trained last year in the
latest methods for restoring mosaics, while training in 2010 focuses
on staff from Hama Department of Archeology, who worked on a mosaic
dating back to Byzantine period, which will soon be ready for display.
Ancient Syrian, Greek, Roman and Byzantine artist used colored
stone or glass to make mosaics, depending on the location where
the piece would be installed. Mosaics discovered across Syria depict
a variety of subjects, with some depicting daily life and social,
economic and cultural activities, while others depicted the beauty
of nature or mythology.
Global Arab Network