Five Roman works of art from the ancient city of Palmyra, a site destroyed during the ten-year conflict in Syria, were returned to Damascus last week by a private Lebanese museum where they have been on display since 2018.

The limestone statues and the carved tombstones dating from the Roman 2nd and 3rd  c. AD were returned at the initiative of a private Lebanese collector, said the head of Syrian Antiquities Mohamed Nazir Awad, at a handover ceremony organized by the National Museum of Lebanon in Beirut.

The collector, Jawad Adra, acquired them from European auction houses before Syria’s war began in 2011, Awad said, describing his actions as “a generous initiative”.

“The artefacts which had been on display at the Nabu Museum in northern Lebanon, are returning to their original homeland”, the Syrian official added.

During the Syrian conflict, the site of Palmyra, one of the most important cultural centers in the ancient world, fell into the hands of jihadists and came under the control of the Islamic State organization, which blew up some of its most important monuments, including the Arch of Triumph.

Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim, said talks were underway to arrange the return of other artefacts to Syria from the National Museum in Beirut.