Truth is stranger than fiction in the case of this enigmatic gold ring. It was discovered on the finger of an Egyptian mummy. In the centre of the ring is a swivelling coin, which shows an owl on one side (the symbol of the Greek city of Athens) and a profile of the Greek goddess Athena on the other side. It is known as the 'Belzoni' ring after the man who discovered the tomb: Giovanni Belzoni, an archaeologist and former circus strongman.
The ring was discovered at a time of international change, when archaeology was developing from a treasure-hunting leisure pursuit into a methodical science. It remains a remnant from the British Empire, when Devon was involved in a global fascination with the ancient past and its myths and legends. 19th century Egypt was under British rule, which is why so many of the country's important archaeological finds are in museums in the UK today. Indeed these objects are the subject of contentious debate as to whether they should be returned to Egypt.
Ralph Sanders, a prominent citizen and partner in the Exeter Bank, donated the ring to RAMM. It had passed to him from Lord Canterbury, who received it from Henry Salt, a British Consul in Egypt.