More Ethiopian Stolen Artifacts Return.

November 26, 2021

Following months of discussions with a British museum, Ethiopian treasures stolen in 1868 have been returned home. The 13 stolen Ethiopian treasures have been returned home after being concealed in private collections for almost a century and a half. “Our country’s old civilization’s history, artifacts, fingerprints of indigenous knowledge, culture… have all been looted in war and unlawfully transported out,” said Nasise Challa, Ethiopia’s tourism minister. Officials said the pieces are part of Ethiopia’s largest act of restitution, which includes an intricately latticed processional cross, a vividly colored triptych representing Jesus’ crucifixion, and an opulent red and brass imperial shield. Following the battle of Maqdala between the British and Ethiopian empires in 1868, these antiquities were captured. A private seller derived from a British soldier who fought at Maqdala auctioned off some of the items in June in the United Kingdom. “Many items from Maqdala were robbed,” stated Teferi Meles, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, where many of the treasures were discovered. “We weren’t able to bring back all of them, but this is the first time in the country’s history that plundered items have been brought back in such a large amount.” The Scheherazade Foundation, a cultural charity organization, purchased many of the artifacts and sent them to the Ethiopian embassy in September. This weekend, they were returned to Addis Ababa and will be shown in Ethiopian museums. Officials say the work is far from done. “We’ve started talks with the British Museum about bringing back 12 tabots,” Teferi said. Tabots are hallowed copies of the Ark of the Covenant in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which is one of the world’s oldest churches. After the Battle of Maqdala, the tabots were also seized. Teferi explained, “If there is no treasure, there is no history; if there is no history, there is no nation.”

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