DEBBANE PALACE

SIDON’S OT­TOMAN HER­ITAGE

Lebanon Traveler - - FRONT PAGE - Le­banese Her­itage Mu­seum 03 850800, lebane­se­heritage­mu­seum.org

Few peo­ple are aware of the ex­is­tence of the Le­banese Her itage Mu­seum, but its vast col­lec­tion that cov­ers the his­tor y of Le­banon makes it an es­sen­tial visit. Founded in 2003 in Jounieh it later re­opened in 2013 at the Gen­eral Sec­re­tar iat of Catholic Schools in Le­banon in Ain Najm, Beit Mer y. Its 14 sec­tions cover ever y era of Le­banese his­tor y: the Phoeni­cian times, Ro­mans, the Byzan­tine and Is­lamic eras to Le­banon un­der Ot­toman rule. Halls are also ded­i­cated to im­por tant fig­ures in Le­banese his­tor y, such as Youssef Bey Karam – the Le­banese ma­ronite who fought in the 19th Cen­tur y civil war and star ted a re­bel­lion against the Ot­tomans in Mount Le­banon; the scholar, his­tor ian and judge Se­maan Khazen Al Eh­deny; states­man and his­tor ian Jawad Bou­los’ Patr iarch Ar ida and a col­lec­tion of the works of renowned Le­banese ar tist Sal­iba Douaihy. The col­lec­tion is ex­ten­sive and in­cludes Ro­man sar­cophagi, an­cient dr ink­ing ves­sels, Byzan­tine col­umns, dec­o­ra­tive Is­lamic tiles and Ot­toman weapons. A walk around the mu­seum, leads you on a time­line through Le­banese his­tor y, giv­ing in­sight into the civ­i­liza­tions that have lef t their im­pact on the countr y.

The col­lec­tion star ted in early 1900 by his­tor ian and wr iter Samer el Khazen; grow­ing in size when his son, Joseph Se­maan Khazen, be­gan col­lect­ing arche­ol­ogy and an­tiques. His son Si­mon el Khazen set up the Samer el Khazen As­so­ci­a­tion in 2000 and opened the mu­seum a few years later with the aim to preser ve Le­banese her itage and make it ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic – con­tin­u­ing the work of his fa­ther and grand­fa­ther be­fore. “I was born in this am­biance so it was at­trac­tive to me. I con­tin­ued the work of my grand­fa­ther and fa­ther by es­tab­lish­ing a mu­seum,” Si­mon says. “The mu­seum high­lights all the cul­tures that passed through his­tor y on Le­banese land.”

Though the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion shows a wider scope of the countr y’s her itage, it also re­flects a more per­sonal his­tor y of the El Khazen’s, a prom­i­nent ar is­to­cratic fam­ily in Le­banon. Ar tist Sal­iba Douaihy was a fam­ily fr iend and within the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion of his works is a char­coal por trait of the young Si­mon and his brother Fouad.

Along­side the mu­seum, El Khazen star ted the foun­da­tion with the aim to repr int books on Le­banese his­tor y, par tic­u­larly the works au­thored by his grand­fa­ther who pub­lished three books on Youssef Bey Karam; another nine were never re­leased. “We are re-pr int­ing these 12 books in a ver y mod­ern way,” Si­mon says. “We also just fin­ished a book on the ar tist Sal­iba Douaihy – an ac­tive ar tist in Le­banon who ex­hib­ited all over the world.”

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