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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 August, 2004, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Sudan treasures at British Museum
Statuette of a Kushite king
Statuette of a Kushite king on loan from Sudan National Museum
The British Museum has unveiled plans for a major new programme about Sudan, featuring an exhibition of the country's cultural treasures.

The programme, which begins on 9 September, will also feature gallery talks and public debates.

"The Sudanese collection in the galleries... is the most important and comprehensive collection outside Sudan," a museum spokesperson said.

The exhibition will include items from 200,000 years of Sudanese history.

Lion statues

Sudan: Ancient Treasures will open in September, revealing the history of Northern and Central Sudan from the Palaeolithic period to the 19th century.

Large stone sculptures of lions devouring bound prisoners will be shown alongside gold statues of ancient kings and antique pottery in the Sudan Past and Present exhibition.

"Maps, plans and photographs will help to set the objects in their archaeological and environmental context," the museum spokesperson said.

Sudan pyramids
Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt, says the British Museum

"The objects on display will reveal the many different aspects of Sudanese history."

The exhibition comes at a time of international concern at human rights abuses against the country's black population in the southern region of Darfur.

The displays will include items from the country's Christian rulers and from the time when the country was ruled by Egyptian pharaohs.

The country's cultural significance has been overlooked, the museum said, because of the influence of its neighbour, Egypt.

"The Kushite sites at Jebel Barkal, Meroe and Naqa, dating from the 8th century BC into the 4th century AD, feature impressive monuments, temples, palaces and even pyramids," the museum spokesperson said.

"There are more pyramids in Sudan than there are in Egypt."

Despite initial plans to charge an entrance fee for the exhibition, the museum recently announced entrance would be free, asking people to give donations to the Save the Children and Oxfam aid projects for Sudan instead.

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