Ancient Benin Bronze Treasures from Nigeria Go Digital

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By Andrew Fungai

Nigeria’s legendary ancient Benin bronzes — relics stolen during British colonial control and scattered around the world — have a new online repository that aspires to become a digital record of the gems.

The History of Ancient Benin – A Brief History

Museums and art collectors in the United States and Europe acquired a large number of metal statues, plaques, and other artefacts stolen from the ancient kingdom of Benin. Many experts consider them the pinnacle of African art.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind, new opportunity to see all of the pieces together and compare them,” said Barbara Plankensteiner, director of Germany’s MARKK museum and one of the project’s founders.

Stolen Artwork Benin Cockrel return to Nigeria: Kontris with stolen artefacts, according to Okukur

Today, Cambridge University became the first British institution to give Nigerian authorities a Benin Bronze medal.

In preparation for a ceremony that would take place at the campus, Jesus College presents a statue of a cockerel to a group from Nigeria.

This action comes after years of advocacy by activists for the return of the bronze monument.

The cockerel was one of the thousands of priceless artefacts that British forces looted from the former king of the Kingdom of Benin’s palace.PHOTO/CREDIT

The return of the stolen bronze cockerel to Nigerian delegates has been referred to as a “momentous occasion” by one master of Cambridge University College.

The “Okukur” statue was constructed in 1897 by British colonial forces.

The father of one of the students donated am to Jesus College in 1905.

Nigeria’s Impact on Benin’s Artifacts

The ability of Nigerian scholars to acquire the knowledge they had previously been unable to be very beneficial for their studies.

The project, which started with research and planning two years ago, was officially unveiled over the weekend in Benin City, the capital of the erstwhile Benin Kingdom located in southern Nigeria’s Edo State.

A sizable collection of photographs and descriptions of artefacts, including ceremonial roosters, shields, and figureheads, are available on the site.

It lists every institution where artefacts are kept, from the British Museum, which has moreover 900 items, to locations like the Toledo Museum of Art, which only has one monument honouring the Queen Mother.

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