MosaicBlues: ISIS tried to sell me a Mosaic looted from a Syrian Museum. .entry-content { font-size:25px !important; }

Monday, November 13, 2017

ISIS tried to sell me a Mosaic looted from a Syrian Museum.

In January 2016 I received through Facebook Messenger a message from Turkey. The author was offering to sell me a mosaic - supposedly excavated from the area of Hatay Antakya (Ancient Antioch) - which had been discarded by the archaeologists. The offer came with pictures. 

Screenshot messenger offer

When I saw how beautiful the mosaic was I could not believe anybody with common sense could have discarded it ! 

Mosaic offered to me through Messenger

I quickly suspected this piece had been stolen. 

I tried to engage the man trying to sell this piece.
He answered to me in Italian and suggested I get in touch with him though a WhatsApp telephone number.

Messenger Communication

In the meantime a search for "Roman Mosaic of Syria" brought up the description of the actual mosaic in the book "Mosaics of the Greek and Roman World" by Katherine M.D.Dunbabin.

Thetys from Shahba Museum

To Balty’s later group (of mosaics) from Shahba belongs an astonishing bust of the Sea-Goddess Tethys... Fish entangled in her hair, a sea dragon coiled around her neck, and she holds a steering oar. The figure of the Sea Goddess occurs frequently on mosaics of the region of Antioch, but never with the power shown here: almost to large for the frame, the figure dominates the small room where it is set. The characteristics of the «Constantinian renascence» are apparent in the broad smooth surfaces and the careful delineation, for instance of the wide opened eyes; but the combination of the massive force of the face and the restlessness of the dark hair makes this work of exceptional quality. Around it, a wide border shows Erotes in boats and fishing, on a sea marked by broad bands of colour.

From there I was able to find professional pictures of the mosaic and confirmed the piece had actually been looted from the museum.

Thetys mosaic stolen from the Shahba Museum in Syria

Detail of the stolen Thetys mosaic.

CBS News' article Following the trail of Syria's looted history describes how artifacts looted by ISIS or under the authority of ISIS regularly end up on the antiquities markets in London, Paris or even New York.

I went to the FBI website to report this matter and have not heard anything about it.

I am a French mosaicist living in Headland, Alabama, USA. My Art is about inspiring people. You can see some of my work  at 

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1 comment:

  1. Just like Indiana Jones!

    Really cool, but I hope they catch the thiefs.