A recent display at the British Library, African Scribes: Manuscript Culture of Ethiopia put the institution’s impressive collection of Ethiopic manuscripts on display. Online, the library has also highlighted efforts to digitize these ancient works and make them accessible to the public. Exhibitions at the British Library and other cultural institutions within Britain have worked to underscore the artistic output of Ethiopian scribes and the literature connected to the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church. In the process, these special exhibitions have also renewed questions of provenance and the issue of whether museums that have benefitted from acts of imperialism and colonialism should now return looted objects — even centuries after the fact.I don't have a view on the merits of repatriating these particular artifacts, because I don't know enough about the local situation. But my general position is that antiquities and cultural artifacts are the heritage of humanity, not just of the descendants of their culture of origin. They should be kept where they are safest.
I noted a recent article that discusses the importance of the Ethiopic Church for the transmission of the Book of 1 Enoch here. Also, back in 2004-2005, the Ethiopic manuscripts taken (i.e., looted) by Britain after the Battle of Maqdala were in the news. See here, here, and here.
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