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Number Seven Thousand Four Hundred and Thirty Nine - 20 November 2023
Iran Daily - Number Seven Thousand Four Hundred and Thirty Nine - 20 November 2023 - Page 8

US accused of sending fake Roman mosaics back to Lebanon

Authorities in New York have been accused by leading academics in France and Britain of repatriating fake Roman artefacts to Lebanon.
Eight out of nine mosaic panels that the US authorities recently returned to the Middle Eastern country are not what they seem, according to claims made by Djamila Fellague of the University of Grenoble.
She claims to have uncovered proof that forgers had copied designs from original mosaics in archaeological sites or museums in Sicily, Tunisia, Algeria and Turkey. “Eight of the nine ‘returned’ mosaic panels were fakes that [are] relatively easy to detect because the models used are famous mosaics,” says Fellague, The Guardian reported.
She singled out a panel depicting an Anguiped Giant, that she believes is based on a section of the famous mosaics in the Villa Romana del Casale in Sicily, a UNESCO world heritage site.
She also claims to have discovered that a mosaic of Neptune and Amphitrite took as its main model a mosaic found in Constantine, Algeria, which has been in the Louvre in Paris since the mid-19th century. Of the other mosaics returned to Lebanon, she claims that there is only one example for which the forgers were inspired by an actual mosaic from Lebanon – a well-known depiction of Bacchus in the National Museum in Beirut.
Christos Tsirogiannis, a guest lecturer at the University of Cambridge and a leading expert in looted antiquities and trafficking networks, believes the evidence is irrefutable. He said that were the revelation to be shown to be true it would be extremely embarrassing for the office of the Manhattan district attorney (DA), which had announced the repatriation of antiquities to Lebanon on 7 September.
Its press release at the time stated that nine mosaics included in the repatriation ceremony were among dozens of Middle Eastern and north African antiquities that were allegedly brought into New York by a Lebanese antiquities trafficker.
In 2022, the DA’s antiquities trafficking unit (ATU) had obtained a warrant for their arrest and applied for a red notice from Interpol.

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