What is this site?

This site compares several different issues of artifact ownership specifically in reference to the complicated issue of relics. The posts, found on the main page or by clicking here, explore how religious meaning changes how people view artifacts.

  • Fraud—the remains of Saint Rosalia in Palermo, Italy are possibly goat bones, but does that matter?  A British geologist in 1825 examined the relics and declared that the bones belonged to a goat. Even if the bones are a fraud, does that remove its power as a religious relic?
Saint Rosalia’s relic.
  • Ownership—should the priceless Iraqi Jewish Archive stay in America or go back to Iraq? Just like in classic examples of artifact ownership, should the National Archives, where the documents were saved from destruction, or Iraq, where the archive was created, be home to the collection?
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Some of the Jewish relics found in Iraq.
  • Stealing—Saint Mark, the Patron Saint of Venice, died in Alexandria, Egypt. He was interred at the Church of Saint Mark until 828 when his remains were stolen and brought to Venice in what has been called the greatest relic heist in history. Saint Mark had no connection to Venice. If the artifacts in question were not relics then would the legitimacy of Venice’s claims be different?

    Venice, Basilica di San Marco
    Venice, Basilica di San Marco.