Following the  British capture of Maqdala, Emperor Tewodros’s mountain capital in north-west Ethiopia, on 13th April 1868, the British troops seized whatever valuables they could find in the city. Geographer Clements Markham records that they “dispersed” all over the mountain top and that the Emperor’s treasury was “soon entirely rifled”. It is believed that more than 400 Ethiopian treasures were taken from Ethiopia at that time.

By Robert Dex (Evening Standard) |

African treasures brought to the UK by the British Army 150 years ago could be loaned back to Ethiopia after going on show at the V&A.

The museum consulted the Ethiopian embassy about its plans to show around 20 objects, including a gold crown seized at the siege of Maqdala.

The Ethiopian government has long appealed for the return of the treasure, brought back by a British military expedition after securing the release of British hostages imprisoned by Ethiopian Emperor Tewodros II.

Among the objects in the V&A’s Maqdala 1868 exhibition are a photograph of the Emperor’s son, a solid gold chalice, jewellery and a wedding dress believed to have belonged to the Emperor’s wife.

The V&A said it had consulted an advisory group including Ethiopian church leaders and historians about the show.

A spokeswoman for the museum said: “The advisory group was convened to discuss the interpretation of the display. Restitution didn’t come up. However, we welcome the opportunity to discuss how to ensure the widest possible access to this material … including long-term loans to an appropriate venue in Ethiopia.”

Following the British capture of Maqdala, Emperor Tewodros’ mountain capital in north-west Ethiopia, on 13th April 1868, the British troops (led by Field Marshal Robert Napier) seized whatever valuables they could find in the city.  Geographer, explorer and writer Clements Markham records that they “dispersed” all over the mountain top and that the Emperor’s treasury was “soon entirely rifled”.

The Association for the Return of the Ethiopian Maqdala Treasures (AFROMET), which was founded in Addis Ababa in 1999, is an international organization dedicated to retrieving priceless Ethiopian treasures looted during the British invasion of the country in 1867-8. The organization was founded by such historians as the late Richard Pankhurst and scholars as Andreas Eshete.

Source: Evening Standard & AFROMET
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