The UK Urged to Return Sacred Treasures Hidden Away for 150 Years from Ethiopia.

October 14, 2021

British museums are urged to return the 11 wood and stone Tabots considered very important by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as the dwelling place of God on Earth and the representation of the Ark of the Covenant which was stolen by the British. This event followed an incident after the emperor Tewodros II took hostages from the British in 1868. Five hundred Ethiopian soldiers were killed and the Emperor killed himself to avoid being taken, prisoner. A new legal opinion defends the reinstatement of the Tabots, referencing a clause in the 1963 law that allows for the removal of artifacts that are “unfit to be kept” and may be disposed of “without harm to the interests of students.” The Tabots fit into this category since they have “no obvious function or significance to the museum.” Former British ambassador to Ethiopia Sir Harold Walker and actor Rupert Everett are among those who signed the petition submitted to trustees of the British Museum. According to the letter, the museum has always safeguarded the sacredness of the Tabots, never displaying them or allowing them to be reproduced, studied, or photographed. “They, in contrast, are kept in vaults, where they remain unknown to many in the nation.” The British Museum said in a statement: “These documents need to be reviewed and addressed with full consideration, and more time is required before this can be looked at by trustees.”

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