Ethiopia recovers stolen treasures from Meqdala War held by Britain

Ethiopia received the return of cultural treasures Friday that were looted during the Meqdala War of 1868.

The artifacts, including the Holy Tabot tablet of ‘Medhane’Alem,’ a lock of Prince Alemayehu’s hair — the son of Emperor Tewodros II — were returned to the Ethiopian Embassy in London.

Other items included three silver cups with bronze plating and a shield, which were returned in a ceremony attended by Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Teferi Meles Desta.

‚ÄúDuring the ceremony, Ambassador Teferi underlined the importance and implications of the returned artefacts and Holly Tabot to the Orthodox Church,” the embassy said in a statement.

Attendees included representatives from the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and UK historical heritage scholars, among others.

The Meqdala War, a pivotal conflict in Ethiopian history, took place between 1867 and 1868 when British forces ransacked the Ethiopian fortress of Meqdala.

The looting of cultural treasures has remained a contentious issue between Ethiopia and institutions holding them in foreign lands.

Teferi said the artifacts held abroad for more than a century, hold immense cultural and historical significance for Ethiopia, reflecting its rich heritage and identity.

The return of the Holy Tabot tablet of ‘Medhane’Alem,’ a religious artifact central to Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, is particularly poignant. The sacred object is revered by millions of Ethiopians and is a symbol of their faith.

The return of the artifacts shed light on the broader issue of African cultural heritage scattered across museums and institutions all over the world.

Countless African artifacts remain displaced, raising questions about the need for further repatriation efforts. Across the globe, museums house a wealth of African cultural treasures that were acquired through various means, often controversially.

From the Benin Bronzes to the Rosetta Stone, the artifacts serve as reminders of Africa’s rich history and heritage. Efforts are ongoing to return many of the items to their countries of origin.

Scroll to Top