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Germany begins return of Benin Bronzes to Nigeria: ‘Correcting the wrongs of the past’

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Germany and Nigeria on Friday signed an agreement paving the way for the return of hundreds of artifacts known as the Benin Bronzes that were taken from Africa more than 120 years ago – an accord that Nigerian officials hope will prompt other countries to follow suit.

Governments and museums in Europe and North America have increasingly sought to resolve ownership disputes over objects that were looted during colonial times.

A British colonial expedition looted vast quantities of treasures in 1897 from the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin, in what is now southwestern Nigeria, including numerous bas-reliefs and sculptures.

The artifacts ended up spread far and wide. Hundreds were sold to collections such as the Ethnological Museum in Berlin, which has one of the world’s largest groups of historical objects from the Kingdom of Benin, estimated to include about 530 items, including 440 bronzes. Many of them date from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Continue Reading

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