British Museum discussing return of ancient artefacts with four foreign governments

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Regarding the return of artefacts from its enormous collection, the British Museum is in negotiations with four foreign countries.

Since 2015, the museum has been formally requested to return twelve exhibits; four of these requests came through diplomatic routes that are not publicly known.

On the other hand, the Greek government has publicly demanded in the media that the Parthenon Marbles be returned.

The governments have not been identified but previously members of the Jamaican government and well-connected figures in Ethiopia have both spoken to the Standard about possible restitution cases.

In 2019, the Jamaican government demanded the return of a one-metre-high rain god sculpture and a carved figure of a birdman, while Ethiopia has long wanted the return of a group of tabots – plaques sacred to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church – which were looted by British soldiers in the 19th century and are regarded as so sacred they are not on display and can not even be studied or photographed.

The Museum did confirm the Rosetta Stone, one of the landmark exhibits in its collection, was not one of the objects whose return was demanded.

The stone, which includes a decree written in hieroglyphics as well as in Ancient Greek was central to allowing archaeologists to decipher the Ancient Egyptian symbols which vastly increased our understanding of the world of the pharaohs.

The museum is currently attempting to hammer out a deal with the Greek government which would see the sculptures go back to Athens on a long term loan in exchange for other ancient artefacts.

The museum is currently prevented by law from returning objects unless there are very particular circumstances but a long-term loan would allow it to circumvent the rules.

Imperial Hospital Sylhet

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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