Corporate sarcophagus irks Egyptian

May 25, 2006 at 12:04 PM

CHICAGO, May 25 (UPI) -- A major U.S. sponsor of a traveling exhibit of Egyptian King Tutankhamen artifacts has been criticized for keeping a sarcophagus in its headquarters.

The incident happened Wednesday at Chicago's Field Museum during a media preview of "Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs," which opens to the public Friday.

During remarks from one of the show's national sponsors, Randy Mehrberg, executive vice president of Chicago-based Exelon Corp., said he was standing in for CEO John Rowe, and that Rowe was such a fan of antiquities, he had a 2,600-year-old sarcophagus in his office.

That infuriated Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, the Chicago Tribune reported.

"I don't think this is right," Hawass said. "An artifact like this is not supposed to be in an office or a home, but in a museum. How can he sponsor an exhibit like King Tut and keep an artifact like this in his office?"

An Exelon spokeswoman told the Tribune the sarcophagus "is something John owns personally and it was acquired in a legal manner."

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