How a 3000-yr-old, 27,000-piece jigsaw puzzle was solved in 9yrs!

February 24th, 2011 - 5:10 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 24 (ANI): Imagine having to put together 27,000 fragments of a puzzle together piece by piece - a team of German archaeologists has achieved a similar feat in almost nine years.

They have painstakingly restored a collection of ancient artefacts destroyed during the British bombing of Berlin in World War II and are displaying them at the Pergamon Museum.

It took them nine years to put the 27,000 fragments of the 3,000-year-old Tell Halaf treasures back together, piece by piece, reports CNN.

“We started in 2001. The first step was to lay out all the fragments on an area of 600 square meters and then we started to sort the material. Our tools were only our eyes, our brains, our endurance and our patience,” said Lutz Martin, co-ordinator of the restoration project.

German diplomat, archaeologist and wealthy collector Max von Oppenheim had discovered some ancient statues at Tell Halaf, what is now Syria, and brought them to Berlin in the early part of the 20th century.

“He opened his own museum in 1930 in a former iron foundry. This museum was destroyed in an air raid in 1943 and everyone thought that his collection was lost forever,” said Nadja Cholidis, curator of the project.

The blaze from the bombing destroyed all the limestone objects. Those made from basalt withstood the heat, but not the cold water used to extinguish the fire, which caused them to fracture.

Oppenheim persuaded Walter Andrae, director of the department of Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Pergamon Museum, to salvage nine truckloads of basalt fragments.

They remained in the basement of the Museum for 50 years.

In the 1990s, after the reunification of Berlin, a survey of the fragments raised hopes that at least some of the sculptures could be saved.

The meticulous work to put together the pieces took most of the 2000s and resembled a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle.

In addition to the re-assembled archaeological treasures, the exhibition includes historical footage, photographs and sound recordings telling the story of the Oppenheim’s expedition, the bombing and the subsequent restoration.

The exhibition is open until August 14. (ANI)

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