York College announced today that construction is underway for the installation of a museum collection on campus.
The Clayton Museum of Ancient History will be housed in the lower level of the Mackey Center. The space is currently being renovated, though no firm date has been set for when the museum will open.
The museum is made possible by the contributions of private collector C. Foster Stanback, founder and chairman of the California-based Apologetics Research Society. Stanback served for several years as a missionary to Mexico and has lectured on Christian evidences throughout the United States and Latin America. He is the author of five books, ranging in topic from a historical analysis of the resurrection to financial wisdom.
Stanback has spent years collecting ancient artifacts. The collection currently has 230 pieces that span from the Neolithic Period (6500-3500 B.C.) to the 17th century A.D. A large portion of the collection is comprised of artifacts focusing on the ancient Roman soldier including military diplomas, decorative medals, rings, clothing, seals, armor and weapons including a spatha, pugio (dagger), gladius, helmet and cheek pieces, multiple greaves, knives, and spear blades. Other items in the collection include a seven-piece Egyptian tool set, flint axe heads, coinage, arrowheads, an Assyrian helmet, pottery shards with visible Hebrew inscriptions, Egyptian scarabs, and page leaves from early edition printed works.
Stanback is donating his collection to York College for public display, preservation, education and continuing research.
Stanback is a close friend of York College Head Wrestling Coach Ramon Diaz, who encouraged him to consider giving his collection to YC instead of a school closer to Stanback’s home in California.
“This educational resource will be very unique for our area,” says YC President Steve Eckman. “We are excited Mr. Stanback has chosen to invest in York College in this significant way. His gift will benefit York College as well as the thousands of students and history enthusiasts that will visit in the coming years.”
Stanback has chosen to honor well-known Christian speaker John Clayton with the naming of the museum. Clayton’s “Does God Exist?” lectures were instrumental in Stanback’s conversion to Christianity.
Dr. Frank Wheeler, chair of the department of Bible at York College, says that the museum collection will be a benefit to his students. “It will greatly enhance students’ ability to see what life was like in the ancient Near East. They will be able to see real things, not just pictures, from that period. The museum will be a supplement to students in Bible classes as well as history classes,” he says. “It will be a valuable asset to campus.”
Tim McNeese, associate professor of history and chair of the department, agrees with Wheeler. “Each fall the course I offer in Western Civilization could benefit by making a visit to such a facility on campus. It’s one thing to talk about something; it’s another to see the real deal on display within arm’s reach.”
“This museum will represent yet another legitimate academic space on our campus, one that is special to the historian such as myself. It provides a place, a home for items that were at one time or another part of someone’s living, breathing history. A museum brings the past back and puts it on display,” says McNeese.
Amber Soderholm ’10 is overseeing this project and will serve as curator once the museum opens. “These historical objects will be easily accessible, whereas I had to travel to Israel, Greece, and Turkey to see artifacts like these,” she says. Soderholm holds a bachelor’s degree in history from York College and a master’s degree in museum studies from Johns Hopkins University.
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