Saturday, January 26, 2008

More re SIUC museum returns artifact

Southern Illinois Homepage

The University Museum at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is doing the right thing, with just a touch of reluctance.

Museum director Dona Bachman is working on final details to return a Ptolemaic bronze cat reliquary to the Egyptian consulate's office in Chicago. It will eventually return to Egypt, where more than 5,000 artifacts have been retrieved through its Supreme Council of Antiquities. The council was established in 2002 to retrieve artifacts that were illegally shipped or smuggled out of the country.

"It's a lovely piece. We'd love to keep it. But we also feel bound to respect people of other countries who want their artifacts back. We feel obligated to give it back," Bachman said.

The University Museum received the reliquary more than a year earlier from the estate of the late SIUC music professor Steven Barwick. A friend of Barwick's bought the reliquary, believed to have held feline remains, in 1996 in Paris. He gave it to Barwick as a gift.

The reliquary is surmounted by two cats seated side by side and is believed to be traced back to the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt sometime between 300 B.C. and 100 B.C., said SIUC spokesman Rod Sievers.

See the above page for more details, plus a photograph of the item.

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