ANCIENT treasures from darkest Africa go on show in the North-East today in a cultural coup for a museum.

The Bowes Museum, in Barnard Castle, County Durham, is hosting an exhibition of Sudan's finest archaeological finds - shown recently to great acclaim at the British Museum in London.

Bowes is the only other centre in Britain where the display will be seen.

Exhibits stretch back as far as the palaeolithic period, 200,000 years ago, tracing sophisticated cultures flourishing in the Nile Valley through to Christian and Islamic times.

Many are being shown outside Sudan for the first time through a collaboration between the British Museum and its counterpart in Khartoum.

One of the most striking exhibits is a statuette of a Kushite king, standing among massive stone sculptures and gold jewellery, and domestic and religious items.

Exhibition curator Derek Welsby said: "It shows how beautiful Sudan is and raises awareness of its culture and architecture, which is comparable to Egypt's, even though it is very little known by comparison.

Visitors to the display will be encouraged to contribute towards relief work in the Sudanese war region of Darfur.

Bowes is running a series of public events and educational activities until October 30. For details, call (01833) 690606 or visit