- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 30, 2006

CHICAGO

A utility executive will give an Egyptian sarcophagus to the Field Museum after sudden con-

cern over the artifact briefly threatened to derail the long-standing relationship between the museum and Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Under an agreement announced last week, the museum will acquire the sarcophagus for its permanent collection.

The spat arose because of a 2,600-year-old sarcophagus owned by Exelon Corp. Chief Executive Officer John Rowe that was kept in his corporate office. The ancient coffin is said to date from Egypt’s 26th Dynasty (664 to 525 B.C.).

In a letter to the museum, council Secretary-General Zahi Hawass said the agency would never deal with the Field Museum again unless it removed Mr. Rowe as a named sponsor of the new King Tut exhibition. The Chicago Tribune first reported about the letter on its Web site.

The threat was issued Thursday, a day before the opening of “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs.”

Mr. Hawass said he wouldn’t interfere with the exhibition’s run.

He did say, though, that the Field, which has an extensive Egyptian collection of its own, might no longer have the council’s cooperation.

The council is part of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and is responsible for the conservation, protection and regulation of all antiquities and archaeological excavations in Egypt, including King Tut.

“This doesn’t belong to a person; it belongs to a museum and to the public,” Mr. Hawass said. “He should give it to the Field Museum.”

Mr. Hawass withdrew his threat a short time later when he learned that Mr. Rowe indeed had offered the museum the sarcophagus as an indefinite long-term loan, said Field spokeswoman Pat Kremer.

Exelon spokeswoman Jennifer Medley called the dispute a simple misunderstanding.

“Mr. Rowe has several times offered to loan the sarcophagus for an indefinite period,” said Miss Medley, who said she wasn’t sure just when and where Mr. Rowe, an avid amateur student of history, acquired the piece, or from whose tomb it was excavated.

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