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Sunday, September 26, 1999 Published at 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK


Eton displays Egytian treasures

Curators say the ancient artefacts are priceless

One of the world's most valuable collections of Egyptian artefacts has gone on display for the first time at Eton College in Buckinghamshire.

Curators of the exhibition say they are unable to place a value on the exhibits, as they are so rare.

[ image: Dr Stephen Spurr said the collection was his passion]
Dr Stephen Spurr said the collection was his passion
The collection, which includes more than 200 objects dating back as far as 5000 BC, was left to the school by a former pupil.

But it has taken the dedication of one of the teachers, Dr Stephen Spurr, to recognise the value of the objects.

The BBC's Daniella Relph: "This latest collection is like no other seen in a British school"
The exhibition is a personal triumph for the classics master, who spent much of his spare time working on the collection.

Happy days

Old Etonian Major William Meyers bequeathed the collection to the school 100 years ago.

The major was not a great scholar but he loved Egypt and bought the objects while he was travelling there.

[ image: Major Meyers felt indebted to Eton]
Major Meyers felt indebted to Eton
His diaries, which form part of the exhibition, reveal his regret at having to leave the country in 1887.

"The morning was delicious. I never remember a more beautiful morning in Egypt, more fresh and bright. And to think what one is going back to at home," he wrote.

Next year the exhibition transfers to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

In a letter opened after his death, Major Meyers wrote that his time at Eton was the happiest of his life and he owed the school a debt.

He paid his dues with the priceless Egyptian collection.

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