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The BBC's Emma Howard reports
"They discovered the ancient stone in the cellar"
 real 28k

Friday, 4 February, 2000, 11:39 GMT
The 2,700-year-old bike rack

Eyptian statue Staff leaned their bikes against the statue


Archaeologists used to treasures from far-away temples are hailing one unearthed rather closer to home - behind the staff bicycles in a Hampshire cellar.

A 2,700-year-old statue of the Egyptian king Taharqa has reportedly been found in the basement of the God's House Tower archaeological museum in Southampton, after being ignored for a century.

Staff used it to lean their bicycles against - but no-one realised the 27-inch statue's importance until two Egyptologists came to visit the museum.

They contacted Vivian Davies, keeper of Egyptian antiquities at the British Museum, who travelled from London to see the statue and pronounced it an "incredibly exciting" find.

Mr Davies said the piece was an important piece of Kushite art dating back to the 7th Century BC.

'Very excited'

The Kushites were from what is now Sudan. Taharqa reigned about 3,000 years ago and is thought to have been a keen builder of temples.

The king is shown as a god marching forward although the feet, lower left leg, much of the left arm and parts of the head-dress are missing.

It is still a mystery how such an old and rare artefact came to Southampton.

Karen Wardley, curator of archaeological collections for the city council, told The Times: "No-one had a real clue about its value. We are very excited.

"It was being used by museum attendents to lean their bicycles against."

The statue is now being stored in Southampton's Civic Centre art gallery, where it will go on display once appropriate security has been arranged.

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See also:
21 Jan 00 |  UK
Ancient sculpture goes home
14 Oct 99 |  Middle East
Egypt unearths world's oldest stables
29 Sep 99 |  Middle East
Egypt's golden millennium
13 Jul 99 |  UK
Decoding the mysteries of ancient Egypt

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