The restored ancient glass ships that were damaged in the 2020 Beirut Port explosion will be on display at the British Museum.
The eight vases, from the Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods, have been carefully reconstructed by museum conservation experts and will be exhibited in the London office before being returned to Lebanon in late autumn.
British Museum Director Hartwig Fischer said the objects – which are on display at an event called Shattered Glass Of Beirut at the Asahi Shimbun Displays – “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 immensely gratified to see the restoration of these ancient glass objects come to fruition.”
He added: “Bringing these pieces back to their proper shape has been an irresistible symbol of resilience and we are honored to have been part of this important collaboration.”
The artifacts are among the precious objects that were rescued in an emergency recovery campaign launched after the Museum of the American University of Beirut (AUB) was badly damaged in the August 2020 explosion.
The ships were among 74 Roman, Byzantine and Islamic period objects in one case at the AUB that fell after being hit by the blast wave of the harbor explosion three kilometers away.
The blast hit the building and smashed the glass objects inside the enclosure.
A team of experts carefully reassembled hundreds of glass fragments and the once shattered vessels were repaired so that they are structurally sound, although signs of breakage can still be seen.
It means that blast damage is now part of the history of these delicate objects.
Dr Nadine Panayot, curator of the AUB Archaeological Museum, said, “Rebuilding these fragmented glass vessels bit by bit has helped them come together, recognize their heritage value and build a sense of community.
“Seeing these fragile, shattered vessels reassembled not only triggered a healing process, it also inspired me to hope for a better future.”
The British Museum has said that the ships that have been preserved at the London site are extremely important in telling the story of the development of glassblowing technology in Lebanon in the first century BC, a period that saw glassmaking revolutionized.