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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 April, 2004, 00:19 GMT 01:19 UK
Divided lion takes pride of place
The sculpture probably came from a Greek shrine or temple

Two halves of a 2,500-year-old terracotta lion's head which spent most of their existence apart have been reunited for a new exhibition.

It ends an international search which began when half was lent to Newcastle University's Shefton Museum of Greek Art and Archaeology in the 1970s.

Professor Brian Shefton traced the second half to a Swiss collector who has since bequeathed it to the museum.

The head is thought to have come from a Greek shrine or temple in Italy.

Prof Shefton said: "I had been immensely pleased to get our half of the lion's head, and I thought that there was absolutely no chance of the other half ever being found."

Catalogue find

The professor's involvement with the sculptured head began when Lionel Jacobson - a major benefactor of the university's Greek collection - bought the right half at Christie's and loaned it to the museum.

Prof Shefton later spotted the second half in a catalogue of an exhibition of animals in ancient art and traced it to Switzerland, and Dr Leo Mildenberg, who collected depictions of animals in ancient art.

At the time, the Mildenberg collection was on tour in the US, but 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 - confirming the professor's suspicion that the two halves were part of the same head.

Dr Mildenberg left his half of the lion to the museum after he died and subsequently the family of the late Mr Jacobson donated their half to the museum - where the two halves have now been reunited.

Greek sanctuary

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.

It is likely to have come from a Greek sanctuary at San Biagio, near the Greek colony of Metaponto, where a complete head of the same type was recently excavated.

On the Swiss half of the lion's head, fragments of the original decoration - the eye and whiskers - are still clearly visible.

On the Newcastle half, there is less paint remaining and the overall colour is much paler, suggesting that the two halves have been subjected to different methods of cleaning.



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