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A government committee tasked with securing the return of historic artifacts has formally requested an UK-based auction house to call off plans to sell a 19th century shield looted during the British siege of Maqdala.

The Ethiopian Heritage Authority made the request in a letter to Anderson & Garland, in which it said the animal hide shield was “wrongfully obtained” during the looting of the fortress where Emperor Tewodros II made his final and ill-fated stand against British forces in 1868.

A member of the restitution committee told the media that the auction was “inappropriate and immoral.”

The shield is valued at up to USD 1,500 and neither the auction house nor the UK government have made a formal reply to the Authority’s request.

Over 20 private collectors have returned items looted from Maqdala following restitution requests, putting pressure on European institutions possessing colonial-era artifacts. Westminster Abbey recently agreed to return a sacred tablet to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. A further 11 tablets are thought to be in the possession of the British Museum.

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