Nor do I know much about old art. But it’s still interesting to learn that murals have been discovered in Syria depicting some early artistic renditions of heaven and hell.
Experts are now renovating the 12th century paintings, which were discovered last year by a joint Syrian-Hungarian team excavating an old Crusader fortress on a hilltop near the Mediterranean Sea in the western province of Tartous.
The discovery was announced Saturday by Bassem Jamous, Syria’s director general of antiquities and museums, who told the state-run Al-Thawra newspaper that the paintings could provide information about the traditions and beliefs of the Crusaders.
The murals, which measure about 8 feet (2.5 meters) high and 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) wide, were hanging on either side of the altar of a 12th century chapel inside the al-Marqab Citadel and had accumulated thick layers of dust and dirt, archaeologists said.
The panel depicting hell shows people being tortured inside a wheel covered with knives and others being hanged and burned, said Marwan Hassan, head of the Department of Antiquities in Tartous. The one portraying heaven includes saints surrounded by light colors.
Hassan said the Crusader murals are important because they are the first ones found in the Middle East depicting heaven and hell.
No pictures of those, unfortunately, so we just have to use our imaginations to figure out how a wheel covered with knives would work as a torture implement. Would the wheel be turning around you while you stood in the center getting sliced and diced and julienned like a carrot in a Starfrit commercial? Or more like a closed in merry-go-round with alternating speed settings and no hand rails so you careen around dizzily and get poked, gouged and impaled at random intervals?
Ah well anyway. Good luck with that, all you art history folks over there. I’m sure it truly is a magnificent find.