Old glass vessels damaged in the Beirut explosion are on display at the British Museum

A Roman bowl, AD 50-70, Early Islamic flask, AD 700-1000, Byzantine cup, AD 500-700, Byzantine jug, AD 400-500 (British Museum) (PA Media)

A Roman bowl, AD 50-70, Early Islamic flask, AD 700-1000, Byzantine cup, AD 500-700, Byzantine jug, AD 400-500 (British Museum) (PA Media)

Restored antique glass vessels damaged in the 2020 Beirut port explosion are to be displayed at the British Museum.

Dating from Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods, the eight vessels have been carefully reassembled by museum conservation experts and will be displayed in London before being returned to Lebanon in late autumn.

British Museum director Hartwig Fischer said the items – on display in the Asahi Shimbun Displays at an event called Shattered Glass Of Beirut – “tell a story of near-destruction and recovery, of resilience and collaboration”.

Hidde van Seggelen, President of the European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF), said: “We are delighted that the restoration of these antique glass objects is bearing fruit.”

He added, “Restoring these pieces to their rightful form has been a compelling symbol of resilience and we are honored to have been a part of this important collaboration.”

A team of conservators and student volunteers retrieve fragments of broken glass vessels at the American University of Beirut Archaeological Museum (AUB/British Museum/PA) (PA Media)

A team of conservators and student volunteers retrieve fragments of broken glass vessels at the American University of Beirut Archaeological Museum (AUB/British Museum/PA) (PA Media)

The artifacts are among the valuable items rescued as part of an emergency recovery campaign launched after the American University Museum in Beirut (AUB) was badly damaged in the August 2020 blast.

The ships were among 74 items dating back to Roman, Byzantine and Islamic times in an AUB suitcase that fell over after being hit by the shockwave from the port blast two miles away.

The explosion hit the building and shattered the glass objects inside the case.

A reassembled Roman bowl, AD 100-300 (Archaeological Museum of the American University of Beirut, Lebanon/PA) (PA Media)

A reassembled Roman bowl, AD 100-300 (Archaeological Museum of the American University of Beirut, Lebanon/PA) (PA Media)

A team of experts has painstakingly reassembled hundreds of shards of glass, and the once-shattered vessels have been repaired so they are structurally intact – although the marks of breakage can still be seen.

With that, explosion damage is now part of the story of these delicate objects.

dr Nadine Panayot, Curator of the AUB Archaeological Museum, said: “Reconstructing these broken glass vessels piece by piece has helped bring them back together, recognize their value as heritage and build a sense of community.

Conservation experts work on a Roman bowl, AD 200-400 (The Trustees of the British Museum the American University of Beirut, Lebanon/PA) (PA Media)

Conservation experts work on a Roman bowl, AD 200-400 (The Trustees of the British Museum the American University of Beirut, Lebanon/PA) (PA Media)

“Seeing these broken and delicate vessels being put back together not only triggered a healing process, but also inspired me to hope for a better future.”

The British Museum said the vessels preserved at the London site are enormously important in telling the story of the development of glassblowing technology in Lebanon in the 1st century BC. To tell about a time when glass production was revolutionized.

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