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Lion back together after 2,500 years.

Two halves of a sculptured lion's head dating from 500 BC have been reunited after spending most of their existence apart.

It follows an international search that began with an expert's hunch 20 years ago and led him on a trail from Newcastle upon Tyne to Zurich, in Switzerland, via Ohio in the United States.

The two halves of the terracotta head, which would have decorated an ancient Greek temple, have now gone on permanent display together at Newcastle University's Shefton Museum of Greek Art and Archaeology.

One half of the sculpture -the right-hand side -has been on display at the university since the 1970s, when a benefactor bought it from Christie's and loaned it to the museum.

The second half of the head was found by the museum's founder, Professor Brian Shefton, from a catalogue of an exhibition of animals in ancient art.

He traced the second half of the sculpture to Switzerland, and the collection of Dr Leo Mildenberg, a renowned collector of ancient art, especially depictions of animals.

By that time, the Mildenberg collection was on tour in the USA, but Dr Jennifer Neils, a museum curator in Ohio, made a plaster cast of the broken edge of the Swiss lion and sent it to Newcastle University.

The cast was an almost perfect fit with the Newcastle half -there was only slight discrepancy because the Newcastle piece still had traces of soil on its broken edges, proving that the break must have occurred some time ago -thus confirming the professor's suspicion that the two halves were part of the same head.

Upon his death, Dr Mildenberg left his half of the lion to the museum and subsequently, the family of the late Lionel Jacobson -a major benefactor of the university's Greek collection -donated their half to the museum, where the two halves have now been reunited.

The two halves of the lion's head once formed the upper portion of a waterspout from the guttering of a small shrine or temple built by Greek colonists living in Southern Italy in the 5th Century BC.


The lion's head: Once formed the upper portion of a waterspout
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 13, 2004
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