Cast your eyes over priceless ancient treasures in the UK

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Arts Editor Joe Riley reveals the treasures of Liverpool World Museum’s new Egyptian Gallery which opens next month

HEAVILY guarded in a north Liverpool ware-house, within a special container power-sealed with a dozen rivets, there lies a treasure greater than either of its counterparts from Tutan-khamen’s tomb.

The battle girdle worn by the last of Egypt’s great battling pharaohs, Rameses III, is delicately coiled on a bed of layered tissues: a 3,000-year- old gem as priceless as our own crown jewels.

The five-metre exquisitely embroidered multi-coloured linen belt will form the centrepiece of Liverpool World Museum’s new Egyptian gallery.

The girdle would have been donned by Rameses as he proudly rode his war chariot on campaigns against invaders.

It is an item, held in Liverpool since the 1860s, but known to scholars the world over.

A recent visitor to see its splendours was the director of the Louvre museum in Paris.

Ashley Cooke, World Museum’s curator of Egyptology and research fellow at Liverpool University, is in no doubt about the uniqueness of this particular artefact: “It is one of the most treasured items in the world.

“Only two similar such items exist.

“They are from the tomb of Tutankhamen, but they are not as splendid or as long.”

The belt is among 1,500 items that go on display from December 5.

Among the others likely to vie for attention are five mummies, including one of a female contemporary of Cleopatra, who inspired a classic novel from the celebrated Victorian writer Henry Rider Haggard.

The new permanent exhibition covers life in Egypt from the time of Menes, the first king, who reigned 3000 years BC, through to the time of the pharaohs, and on to the periods of the Greek and Roman occupations...

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