An 800-year-old museum in war-torn Gaza

August 6th, 2010 - 12:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Gaza, Aug 6 (IANS) An 800-year-old house in Gaza is being turned into a museum, which will house a massive collection of 1,300 coins belonging to different ancient civilisations.
Marwan Shahwan, owner of the house in Khan Younis city in southern Gaza strip, says the museum is “an individual effort”.

The 165-sq-metre museum includes antiques dating back to Roman, Byzantine, Islamic and Palestinian eras, reports Xinhua.

Full of inscriptions, beautiful geometric designs and ancient coins, the museum also has traditional dresses worn by Palestinian women before 1948.

Shahwan, 45, says he travels around Gaza to look for antiques.

“I worked hard and visited popular markets on a daily basis to buy antiques,” said Shahwan, who spend most of his time collecting and fixing antiques.

“I started my adventure of collecting since I was a child,” he said.

Shahwan’s museum is now being visited by both Arab and Western delegations interested in learning the history of the Gaza Strip. Shahwan, however, has never asked them to pay for their visits.

“I refuse to run my museum for commercial purposes and I also refuse to receive big delegations for fear that the crowds would destroy the antiques,” Shahwan said, adding “the place is not big and doesn’t have any protection”.

Shahwan has rejected several offers by Palestinian and international businessmen to buy his antiques for high prices.

“My efforts and the precious antiques I own are invaluable, they represent the ancient Palestinian history and civilizations of different eras and nations.”

Archeologists say the Gaza Strip has lots of ancient sites of different civilisations that had flourished in the region over the past hundreds of years.

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