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Series: Maqdala Looting
Dr and Mrs Pankhurst Write to London "Independent" Newspaper on Maqdala Treasures
The question of the return to Greece of the Elgin Marbles has recently re-erupted in the British press, with an article by one Philip Hensher in support of restitution, which appeared in the “Independent” newspaper, in London..
On that occasion the “Independent, on 31 August, published a letter from Professor Richard and Mrs Rita Pankhurst which read in part:
“Philip Hensher’s perceptive article urging the return to Greece of the Elgin marbles prompts us to raise the no less necessary return to Ethiopia of the loot from Magdala, taken by a British Expedition in 1868. The loot comprises a gold crown, some 400 manuscripts, ten tabots, or altar slabs, etc., currently held mainly at the British Library and Museum and the Royal Library at Winsdor Castle.
“The changing international perspective on culture raised by Hensher applies to Ethiopia no less than to Greece. Ethiopian manuscripts in Britain were in the past much studied by European scholars, who deserve our praise. Their legacy has, however, been inherited by Ethiopian scholars. Addis Ababa, rather than London, is now indisputably the main center of Ethiopian Studies. Ethiopian libraries are, moreover, now able to preserve the country’s manuscripts.
“From the point of view of international law, the looting of Magdala was in no way justified. Were such action taken today there would quite rightly be a public outcry
The letter ended by explaining that it was “to restore the past injustice that the society Afromet had been established in Addis Ababa to rework for the return of the Magdala treasures.