Palace Museum to help restore ancient Syrian relics

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China to play greater role in reconstructing Syria: ambassador

The Palace Museum signed an agreement with the Syrian Ministry of Culture to restore Syrian relics, a move hailed by Chinese historians as a significant step to preserve cultural heritage for the world. 

The Palace Museum will provide archaeological support to Syria, and will also help train more of the country's professionals in the field of cultural relic conservation and museum management through programs in China, according to a statement the Palace Museum sent to the Global Times on Thursday.

The agreement was signed at the closing ceremony of the three-day Taihe Forum to Protect the World's Ancient Civilizations, which was held at the museum and had attracted delegates from 13 countries, including Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Greece.

According to a memorandum of understanding signed by Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum, and Mahmoud Hamoud, general director of the Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria, on Tuesday, the two sides will cooperate to host exhibits and share information on education, research, publicity, visitor services and security.

Hamoud told the Xinhua News Agency during the forum that "the Palace Museum will also provide us with materials and equipment to rebuild historical heritage sites damaged by the Syrian civil war. The memorandum marks a new beginning."

"Syria is an important station along the ancient Silk Road, and we feel familiar with and close to China," he said.

"We look forward to choosing some of our most representative archeological findings for exhibiting at the Palace Museum," Hamoud noted.

For countries engaged in war, the protection of cultural relics means a lot because their people believe that their countries still exist because these treasures are intact, said Shan.

China is willing to help countries with a long history in preserving cultural heritage for generations to come, he said.

Post-war reconstruction

Helping Syria repair cultural relics is a challenging task because restoring cultural relics requires the use of original material and techniques, Li Mingde, a former vice president of the Beijing Tourism Society, told the Global Times on Thursday.

But most of Syria's relics were completely destroyed, and Chinese experts may not be familiar with Syria's ancient technology, Li said.

According to a report filed by UNESCO in 2017, some 60 percent of the old city of Aleppo has been severely damaged, with 30 percent totally destroyed.

The Palace Museum is the ideal partner for Syria because it has more experience and talent than other Chinese museums, Liu Zheng, a member of the China Cultural Relics Academy, told the Global Times on Thursday, noting that the museum also possesses the most advanced technology to restore relics.

Some of Syria's cultural relics are made of stone, fur, cotton and ceramic, and the Palace Museum has strong expertise in repairing relics of such materials, he noted.

The Palace Museum developed a three-dimensional scanner capable of restoring the original look, materials and color of damaged cultural relics, Liu said.

Ahmed al Gharib, curator of Syria's Aleppo Castle Museum, said in an interview with Russian media Sputnik on September 11 that China is a true friend of Syria and that Syria hopes Chinese companies will take part in the restoration of the city of Aleppo and the historic sites of Syria as a whole.

Chinese Ambassador to Syria Qi Qianjin said during his visit to a hospital in Syria in February that China will play a bigger role in the reconstruction and development process in war-torn Syria by increasing its aid, Xinhua reported.

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