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With the new acquisition taking the number of artefacts in the collection to 18,000, experts around the world are concerned at the lack of access to them.

A new home for the collection, complete with modern display space, had been planned in a former postal sorting office near the BM, but the deal fell through as a result of the general financial crisis at the museum.

The BM said they hoped to include some of the new pieces in an exhibition on ancient Afghanistan next month, but next year the collection will have to move into a museum store in the outskirts of London.