Syrian experts have uncovered a large intact mosaic that dates back to the Roman era.
They are describing it as the most important archaeological discovery since the country’s conflict began 11 years ago.
Journalists were shown the mosaic, which shows ancient Amazon warriors, in the central town of Rastan near Homs, Syria’s third-largest city.
The mosaic, at 120 square metres (around 1,300sq ft), was found in an old building that was under excavation by Syria’s general directorate of antiquities and museums.
Lebanese and Syrian businessmen from the neighbouring country’s Nabu Museum bought the property that dates back to the 4th century and donated it to the Syrian state. Each panel was filled with square-shaped, small colourful stones measuring about half an inch on each side.
Dr Humam Saad, the associate director of excavation and archaeological research at the directorate, said among the scenes the mosaic shows is a rare portrayal of ancient Amazon warriors in Roman mythology.
‘What is in front of us is a discovery that is rare on a global scale,’ Dr Saad told The Associated Press, adding that the images are ‘rich in details’, and includes scenes from the Trojan War between the Greeks and Trojans.
In Ancient Greek and Roman mythology, demigod hero Hercules killed Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons, in one of his 12 labours.
The mosaic also portrays Neptune, Ancient Roman god of the sea, and 40 of his mistresses.
‘We can’t identify the type of the building, whether it’s a public bathhouse or something else, because we have not finished excavating yet,’ Dr Saad told the AP.
Syrian heritage sites have been looted and destroyed over the past decade of ongoing violent conflict.
Among the most notable incidents was the so-called Islamic State group taking Palmyra, a Unesco World Heritage Site that boasts 2,000-year-old towering Roman-era colonnades and priceless artefacts, and partially destroying a Roman theatre.
Meanwhile, Syria’s cash-strapped government has slowly been rebuilding Aleppo’s centuries-old bazaar after reclaiming it from armed opposition forces in 2016.
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