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Historical Artifacts the British Empire Stole and Displayed in Its Museums

Have you ever wondered about the historical artifacts displayed in British museums? Well, there’s much more to their stories than meets the eye. 

The looting of historical artifacts by the British Empire is a controversial topic that has been discussed for years. The debate focuses on whether these artifacts should be kept in colonizers’ museums or returned to their original countries. This article will focus on the histories of these artifacts and the ethical problems surrounding their ownership.

Koh-i-Noor Diamond

The glorious Koh-i-Noor diamond.
Image by: Wikipedia

The Koh-i-Noor Diamond, one of the most oversized jewels in the world, measures 105 carats. It was extracted from an Indian quarry and added to the Mughal Empire’s coffers. The diamond was taken under the authority of the British East India Company in 1851 and gifted to Queen Victoria. It was later added to the Queen Mother’s crown, which is now displayed in the Tower of London.

The Queen of England's Crown which contains the Koh-i-Noor diamond.
Image by: BBC

India has frequently claimed the return of diamonds. Although according to the British government, the diamond was acquired lawfully and is now a significant piece of the British cultural legacy.

The Rosetta Stone

A picture of the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum.
Image by: History Hit

The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian stele that bears an inscription of law from King Ptolemy V’s rule in 196 BCE. It is regarded as the key to comprehending ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and is written in three scripts: Ancient Greek, Demotic script, and hieroglyphics. During Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt, French troops found the stone in 1799. It was later taken by the British in 1801.

The Rosetta Stone is now regarded as one of the British Museum’s most prized possessions and has been exhibited there since 1802. Egypt has repeatedly demanded the stone’s return, claiming it should be given to its legitimate owners since it was taken during colonial occupation.

The Maqdala Treasures

Photograph of some of the Maqdala Treasures that were given to Ethiopia.
Image by: The Art Newspaper

The Maqdala Treasures are a collection of Ethiopian religious and cultural artifacts that British soldiers looted during the 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia. The artifacts, which include gold and silver crowns, manuscripts, and religious icons, were taken to the UK and are now held by various institutions, including the Victoria and Albert and the British Museum.

Ethiopian administration has repeatedly demanded the return of the Maqdala Treasures. The Victoria and Albert Museum agreed to lend Ethiopia some of the artifacts in 2018, but the bulk of the collection is still in the museum’s custody.

Benin Bronzes 

The Benin Bronze sculptures.
Image by: History

The Benin Bronzes are a fascinating collection of brass sculptures and plaques the British troops stole from the Kingdom of Benin in 1897. These beautiful artworks depict various aspects of the Benin people’s daily lives, religion, and royalty and are a valuable part of African cultural heritage.

Today, there is a movement to return the Benin Bronzes to Nigeria and restore them to their rightful owners. The British Museum has discussed the possibility of loaning the Benin Bronzes to Nigeria.

Elgin Marbles

A picture of the Elgin Marbles that depict scenes from life in Athens.
Image by: History Extra

The British diplomat Lord Elgin took several antique Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions, and architectural elements from the Parthenon in Athens at the beginning of the 19th century. The statues date back to the 5th century BC and depict various scenes from Greek mythology and everyday life in ancient Athens.

The taking of the Elgin Marbles has been controversial and debated for many years. Greece has long called for their repatriation, arguing that they are vital to the country’s cultural heritage.

The Sultanganj Buddha 

The Sultanganj Buddha kept in the British Museum.
Image by: BBC UK

This Buddha bronze statue dates back to the 6th or 7th century CE. It was discovered in the Sultanganj region of Bihar, India, in the 1860s. The statue was taken by British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham and sent to the British Museum in London. The statue, which is over two meters tall and weighs about a ton, is one of the earliest representations of the Buddha in human form.

India has repeatedly requested the return of the Sultanganj Buddha. Still, the British Museum has refused to repatriate it, citing the statue’s cultural significance to British history. 

Final Word

The looting of historical artifacts by the British Empire has had a lasting impact on the cultural heritage of colonized countries. The ongoing movement towards repatriation is an essential step towards addressing this legacy and restoring colonized peoples’ dignity and cultural heritage. It is our collective responsibility to acknowledge the past wrongs of colonialism and take action toward repairing the damage that has been done.

Big History History Old West

How Did Ancient Greece Begin: A Historical Exploration

The birthplace of Western civilization, Ancient Greece, has profoundly impacted our modern world. The influence of ancient Greece can be seen in all spheres of life, from politics to philosophy and literature to art. However, how did Ancient Greece begin? What led to the development of this impressive civilization? We will look at the history of ancient Greece and its origins in this article.

The Neolithic Period: Small Communities and Early Trade

Picture showing Greece in the Neolithic Period.
Image by: History

Greece’s earliest recorded civilization dates to the Neolithic era, roughly 7000 BC. At this time, most Greeks were farmers and herders who lived in modest, autonomous communities. They used essential tools of stone and bone to construct their mud-brick and thatch homes.

These communities started trading with one another over time, exchanging goods like food, clothing, and pottery. As a result, larger settlements and specialized occupations were developed along with more complex societies. 

The Emergence of the Minoan Civilization on Crete

A building in the Minoan Civilization in Ancient Greece.
Image by: Local Histories

The Minoan civilization first appeared in Crete around 2000 BC. It grew up to be one of the most significant in the Mediterranean. The Minoans were adept merchants and navigators who developed writing, art, and architecture system.

Like the well-known Palace of Knossos, their palaces were enormous, intricate buildings that housed the ruling class and artisans, farmers, and traders. The Minoans were renowned for their devotion to a goddess known as the “Mistress of Animals,” which included practices like handling snakes and bulls.

Unfortunately, the Minoan civilization was wiped out around 1600 BC by a devastating volcanic eruption on the nearby island of Thera.

The Mycenaean Civilization: Warriors and Artisans

A stone carving depicting warriors in the Mycenaean Civilization.
Image by: World History Encyclopedia

Around 1600 BC, a warrior culture known as the Mycenaeans appeared on the Greek mainland. They were renowned for their solid fortified palaces, including the well-known Lion Gate at Mycenae. The Mycenaeans were expert craftspeople who made elaborate gold jewelry, pottery, and weapons. Their religion was based on worshiping a pantheon of goddesses, such as Zeus, Hera, and Athena. 

The Greek Dark Ages: Collapse and Fragmentation

A picture of the Dorian Wars in Ancient Greece.
Image by: Tales of Times Forgotten

Around 1200 BC, the Mycenaean civilization was on its rise. However, a combination of factors, including invasions by foreign powers and internal unrest, ultimately led to its extinction. The Mycenaean society fell apart during this time, referred to as the Greek Dark Ages, and Greece was divided into many tiny, independent city-states.

The Greeks developed their distinct culture and identity based on shared language, history, and mythology during the Dark Ages. They also created their alphabet, which would eventually serve as the model for the current Western alphabet. They also produced literature, including Homer’s epic poems, which would have a long-lasting impact on Western literature.

The Rise of the City-States: Athens, Sparta, and Corinth

A map showing the major city-states of Ancient Greece.
Image by:

In the 8th century BC, the Greeks began to emerge from the Dark Ages and develop more complex societies. They established city-states, known as polis, independent political entities with their governments, laws, and customs. The most famous of these city-states were Athens, Sparta, and Corinth.

The Persian Wars: Uniting Against External Threats

A painting of the Battle of Salamis during the Persian Wars.
Image by: Encyclopedia Britannica

Between 492 and 449 BCE, a series of battles known as the Persian Wars took place between Greek city-states and the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. The conflicts started when Darius I, the Persian emperor, sought to extend his realm into Greece. This effort resulted in the invasion of the Greek city of Eretria and the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE.

A coalition of city-states led by Athens and Sparta repelled the Persian forces at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BCE, proving that the Greeks could not be easily defeated. The Persian Wars brought the city-states together to face a common external threat, making them a turning point in ancient Greece’s history.

The Legacy of Ancient Greece

A painting to signify the legacy of Ancient Greece.

Many facets of contemporary Western culture bear traces of ancient Greece. Greeks were innovators in philosophy, science, and math, and their concepts still impact how we view the world today. Greeks were expert sculptors and builders who produced some of history’s most recognizable monuments, including the Parthenon in Athens and the Zeus statue at Olympia.


In conclusion, ancient Greece first emerged in the Neolithic era, when tiny, autonomous communities started trading. These groups eventually evolved into the city-states that were the hallmark of ancient Greece and more advanced societies like the Minoans and Mycenaeans. Despite their differences, the city-states shared a common history and culture, and many aspects of contemporary Western culture bear witness to this legacy. The fascinating history of ancient Greece is replete with victories, setbacks, and lasting contributions that still impact the world today.

American History Blog Posts History History Adventures Old West

6 Shocking Things Considered Normal in the American Wild West

The American Wild West was a time of lawlessness and rugged individualism. The only goal of the Westerners was survival! The frontier’s unique challenges and dangers shaped the period’s cultural norms. You’d be amazed to know that many practices considered normal at the time would be shocking today.

From public executions to photographing dead bodies, the Wild West was where the harsh realities of life on the frontier defined societal norms. This article will explore some of the most shocking things considered normal in the American Wild West.

Photographing the Dead Bodies

Charley Pierce, a famous American outlaw. Image by:  Pinterest

Reassuring the public of an outlaw’s death was so tricky in the Wild West that it became customary to photograph the body. When an outlaw died or was killed, they would be pictured standing against the wall before the body stiffened up. 

Only after this practice was the body buried. The images were also required as verification while receiving awards. When there was no photograph, there was no certainty that the outlaw was dead.

Traveling Corpse

Image by: Stillwater News Press

One of the Wild West’s most shocking and bizarre tales is that of Elmer McCurdy and his traveling corpse. Elmer McCurdy was a notorious outlaw whose life ended in 1911 after he was shot dead by law enforcement. 

However, his body was not buried. An undertaker preserved it, and the mummified body was put to display for about sixty years before a proper burial in Oklahoma. Bizarre, isn’t it?

Public Executions

Image by: eVanNicole / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Public executions were carried out to maintain law and discourage crime. Large audiences used to gather around to witness the executions. It was common for vendors to sell food and drinks to the spectators while they saw the executions. Talk about sinister theater, right?  

The legal system in the Wild West was frequently untested and prone to errors. Numerous public executions took place as a result of erroneous trials. At times, people were executed for crimes they did not commit, adding to the controversy surrounding public executions. Such executions were also racially biased. Minorities, especially African Americans, were punished more than whites, adding to the inequalities that existed in American society at that time. The practice, despite its cruelty, was widely accepted until abolished in the late 20th century.

Exploitative Prostitution 

mage by: Daily Mail

The rapid growth of towns and cities in the American Wild West brought a demand for prostitution. Poor women with limited work opportunities were forced into prostitution to survive. 

Many of these women were immigrants or members of minorities, making them especially vulnerable to exploitation. They were frequently exposed to severe working circumstances, including long hours, little pay, and physical assault. 

Prostitutes were also in considerable danger of developing sexually transmitted diseases and being assaulted by customers or pimps.

Additionally, local newspapers of that time would identify and mention prostitutes as a symbol of disgrace. There was a conflicting attitude towards prostitutes in the west. They were both desired for their sexual services (joy) and reviled for their perceived moral corruption (misery), as narrated in Anne Butler’s book “Daughters of Joy, Sisters of Misery.”

Significant Violence and Lawlessness

Image by: ArtStation

The American Wild West was a time of widespread bloodshed and anarchy. The lack of robust law enforcement created a dangerous atmosphere in the state where violence was a constant concern.

There were numerous sources of violence, including confrontations between settlers and Native American tribes or disagreements over land and resources. It was common for people in the wild west to carry firearms in public. It was considered a sign of bravery and toughness, widely accepted and encouraged.

Duels, brawls, and other forms of violence were common, and it was often necessary to defend oneself.

The Short-Lived Camel Craze of the American Frontier

Camels were brought to the Wild West by the US Army as an experiment to see if they could be used as pack animals in the desert terrain of the Southwest. The experiment began in the mid-1850s and lasted until the early 1860s.

According to David Roberts, author of “The Last Camel Charge: The Untold Story of America’s Desert Military Experiment,” the US Army imported 75 camels from the Middle East to Texas in 1856, and by 1860, there were 34 camels stationed at Camp Verde in the Texas Hill Country.

However, camels were not well-liked by soldiers and civilians alike, as they were seen as stubborn and difficult to handle. In addition, their strange appearance and unpleasant smell made them unpopular.

The use of camels in the Wild West was short-lived, as the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 diverted the attention and resources of the US Army. Many of the camels were sold off, and others were simply released into the wild.

Final Word

In conclusion, the American Wild West was a time of great danger and lawlessness. It is marked by unique cultural norms and practices that often shock modern standards. From public executions and widespread use of violence to the treatment of women, the Wild West was far from the romanticized version often portrayed in popular culture.