Mali returns antique artifacts to US museums

Written by By Talia Enderlin, CNN Washington, D.C.

Over 900 of the long-existed items, all ‘potentially looted’ by rebels in Mali, were given to some 200 U.S. museum employees, according to the U.S. State Department.

The items were donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington DC, which plans to mount a museum exhibition.

A stone bowl carved from the wood of the root of a palm tree, believed to be dating back to the Nubian period (about 600 BC) went to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

A piece of ivory and carwood inlaid with silver plating and chains bearing the deity as well as the names of the local chiefs and elders and carved in the lapis lazuli-blue, was given to the Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Museum, in coordination with its director.

The tip of a leaf from the same species of palm used to make the bowl was donated to the University of Virginia Museum.

One artifact went to the National Museum of Natural History in New York, another to the African Institute in Washington, D.C., and four were donated to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

The other objects, which include animal bones, birch bark, clay pots, leatherwork and carvings, were donated to French museums, including Paris’ Le Fouquet’s Museum of European Art

“The return of these items from Mali underscores that despite ongoing challenges in Mali, the United States stands with the Malian people in their efforts to restore the integrity of their heritage and to protect this special national treasure,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.

More items, including clay stills, jewelry and textiles, were discovered recently in Mali, which is at risk of losing much of its cultural and historical heritage, according to the State Department.

For President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the gift of the items shows the positive impact of partnership with the U.S. in its fight against violence, looting and the exploitation of these objects.

“I am grateful to President Trump for welcoming my nation’s return of these cultural treasures,” he said in a statement.

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