First time in Ethiopia history to bring back looted artefacts in this quantity

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Ethiopia, one of the world’s oldest countries with a rich and ancient cultural and religious heritage, has said it considers the ransacking of Magdala a “great injustice” that has been a thorn in relations with Britain.

Ethiopia said it was the largest such repatriation of artefacts to the country, with its ambassador to Britain, Teferi Melesse, describing it as of “huge significance”.

The treasures were unwrapped before the media at Ethiopia’s national museum on Saturday, more than two months after they were formally handed over at a ceremony in London in September.

The Ethiopian government is still fighting for Britain to return other stolen artefacts including sacred wooden and stone tabots or tablets, which represent the Ark of the Covenant.

The tabots are housed in the British Museum in London,  which has a vast trove of foreign treasures — but have never been put on public display.

Ethiopia is also seeking the remains of Tewodros’ son Prince Alemayehu who was taken to Britain after the emperor committed suicide following his battlefield defeat.

It is our belief that all Ethiopia’s artefacts must find their way home to bring closure to generations of Ethiopians dispossessed of their heritage and aggrieved by this painful chapter in our shared history.

Several of the returned items were due to be auctioned but were bought by the Scheherazade, a non-profit Foundation with the aim of repatriation through a Dorset-based auction house and private dealers in mainland Europe. Others were acquired from private dealers or investors.