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[BKARTS] Britain to return plundered Ethiopian book

Britain to return plundered Ethiopian book

30.09.2003 6.20 pm By HUGH MACLEOD

An ancient handwritten copy of the Bible's Book of Psalms is to be
returned to Ethiopia 135 years after it was stolen by British
soldiers during the bloody siege of Magdala city.

The 300-year-old book - written in the ancient Ethiopian language of
Ge'ez - was part of a huge haul of loot taken by British troops
during the 1868 invasion of Ethiopia to free Western diplomats
imprisoned by Emperor Theodore II. After the battle the soldiers
loaded hundreds of mules and elephants with gold crowns, swords,
altar slabs and manuscripts, before burning the city to the ground.
The bulk of the plunder made its way into institutions like the
British Museum and Oxford's Bodleian Library. But a large number of
smaller items were taken home by individual soldiers and ended up in
private collections. The holy book, which will be returned to
Ethiopia later this month, was bought from a private collector for
(pounds sterling)750 after being spotted in a bookdealer's catalogue
by members of AFROMET - The Association for the Return of the Magdala
Ethiopian Treasures.

The return will increase pressure on the British museums and
galleries that still hold onto hundreds of illuminated manuscripts
and other plundered items taken during the siege.




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