British Museum Faces Investigation Over Sacred Ethiopian Objects

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
2 Min Read
British Museum

The British Museum, one of the most prominent cultural institutions in the UK, is under investigation by the regulatory body for communications. The museum is alleged to have withheld information regarding around ten sacred Ethiopian tablets, plundered during a military expedition. Addis Ababa is demanding the restitution of these objects.

The ten “tabots” – replicas of the sacred Ark of the Covenant in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church – have never been displayed, studied, or even photographed by the British Museum. Only members of the Ethiopian clergy are permitted to enter the room where the tabots, belonging to the Magdala collection, are kept. These sacred items were pillaged by the British expeditionary force in the 19th century.

In general, the British Parliament must approve the restitution of cultural objects, but museums can return items themselves under certain circumstances, which apply in the case of the tabots, according to a group of legal experts.

The NGO Returning Heritage, which maintains a blog on cultural restitutions worldwide, is thus demanding that the British Museum justify its retention of the Magdala tablets. However, the museum has only provided a partial response, citing the preservation of “certain international relationships” as the reason for its redactions.

The British communications regulator must now decide on the legitimacy of this censorship.


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