France Returns 26 Looted Artifacts To Benin After 130 Years

Photo: Getty Images

Twenty-six stolen artifacts were returned Benin by France this week in a fulfilled promise made by the European nation's president.

On Tuesday (November 9), French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Benin President Patrice Talon and Culture Minister Jean-Michel Abimbola to officially collect the treasures stolen by French troops more than a century ago.

Talon reportedly felt "overwhelming emotion" while signing the official declaration that released the artifacts back to Benin. The artifacts were stolen from the Kingdom of Dahomey, located south of present-day Benin, 130 years ago and include royal throne.

Talon captured the weight of the moment of the artifacts' return, stating that the 26 pieces were much more than "cultural goods," as the French had described them. "This is our soul, Mr. President," Talon said.

Macron hailed the ceremony as "a symbolic, moving and historic moment" that has been a long time coming. Efforts to get the Benin Bronzes returned have been years in the making by cultural advocates and historians across several African countries.

Earlier this year, The Met announced it would be returning two bronzes to Nigeria while Germany vowed to return stolen artifacts there as well.

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