Missing 1600 Year Old Mosaic Found

Huda Khan

Dutch art detective Arthur Brand found the mosaic, which was in the possession of a British couple [Jan Hennop/AFP]
(photo: Jan Hennop/AFP)
Looted from a church nearly four decades ago, a mosaic that’s about 1,600 years old has been found and returned to Cyprus. Arthur Brand, a Dutch art historian and art crime investigator, has spent the last three years looking for the missing piece of art. The stolen artifact was a depiction of Saint Mark during the Byzantine-era. During a ceremony at the Hague in the Netherlands, the art was given to the Church of Cyprus, and to the Cypriot Antiquities Department.

It was stolen from the Church of Panaya Kanakaria in Northern Cyprus, in 1974 following the Turkish invasion. It’s one of the many things that were stolen from the church, and its the last to be recovered. According to CNN, Brand told the Agence France-Presse that the piece is  “… A very special piece that’s more than 1,600 years old. It’s one of the last and most beautiful examples of art from the early Byzantine era.” The search for the piece of art was long and timely. Brand reportedly went across Europe when he was looking for the mosaic. He had managed to trace the piece back to the apartment of a British family in Monaco. The family was reportedly “horrified” to find out that the art was stolen treasure.

The owners agreed to return the treasure to Cyprus, and they were given a symbolic compensation for keeping the mosaic under good care over the past few years.

Brand is known for his art crime recoveries. He has recovered over 200 missing works of arts, going as back as artifacts from the Aztecs, antique porcelain plates, and many paintings that were stolen by the Nazis. One of his most famous finding was the recovery of bronze horse sculptures. He helped the German police in finding the sculptures that were made by Josef Thorak, and believed to belong to Adolf Hitler. Later in 2016, Brand helped find five artworks that were stolen from a Ukrainian Militia Force in the Dutch Golden Age.

(photo: Herrmann)

Believed to be made around 550 AD, the Mosaic of Saint Mark now hangs in the walls of the Panaya Kanakaria. The mosaics are considered the most important surviving pieces of Christian artwork; they are thought to be “part of the Cypriote soul.”