British troops looted and plundered thousands of precious artefacts after the Battle of Magdala in 1868. Fast forward 153 years and the descendants of the same soldiers put a number of the treasures up for sale at auction houses.
Any historian determined to write a comprehensive account of the life and times of Ethiopia – and those who have lived there – will have to go back a long, long time.
Well-preserved human fossils like the famous specimen called “Lucy” suggest the region played a critical role in the evolution of the human species. The adoption of a new religion at the suggestion of a bunch of hardy subversives in the 4th century would make this area one of the first in the world to adopt Christianity.
However, this country’s ancient story is not immediately apparent in its bustling capital, Addis Ababa. The city’s skyline is a haphazard jumble of office towers and apartment buildings, standing alongside major construction projects financed by the Chinese.
Still, there is a place in the capital where some of Ethiopia‘s most precious artefacts are kept and the collection rooms at Ethiopia’s National Museum have recently received some important additions.
The museum’s director, Ephraim Amare, took us up to the fourth floor and unlocked a wooden cabinet in the corner.
“There are three items from the Netherlands, 13 items from Britain, it’s a really interesting addition.”
Placed carefully on the shelves, we saw a ceremonial crown, prayer books hand-written in Ge’ez – Ethiopia’s ancient liturgical language, illustrated manuscripts and ornate crosses made from iron.
Source: Sky News