Greece Watches as Britain Returns Stolen Indigenous Spears to Australia

spears feature

Four spears taken from Australia by a British explorer more than 250 years ago were returned by Cambridge University to descendants of the indigenous community which crafted them.

Recent international efforts to repatriate cultural artefacts have brought attention to ongoing discussions surrounding restitution, with Germany and British organisations returning Benin Bronzes to Nigeria and the Netherlands restoring jewellery to former Asian colonies like Sri Lanka and Bali.

Now, the University of Cambridge is joining this trend by returning multi-pronged wooden spears belonging to the Gweagal people to their indigenous community. These spears, part of Cambridge's collection since 1771, were returned to Trinity College in a ceremony on Tuesday.

spears story people

The decision to repatriate the spears comes after a seven-year wait, during which concerns over housing and conservation delayed the process. However, the persistence of the Gweagal community, represented by Noeleen Timbery of the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council, has finally led to the acknowledgment of the spears' cultural significance.

la perouse

While momentum for repatriation grows, some campaigns face resistance, notably Greece's ongoing efforts to reclaim the Parthenon sculptures from the British Museum. Athens has consistently urged the museum to permanently return the 2,500-year-old sculptures, which were removed by British diplomat Lord Elgin in 1806. The museum's stance on considering a loan to Greece only with acknowledgment of ownership highlights the complexities surrounding repatriation.

As discussions continue, Trinity College's commitment to reviewing the legacies of the British Empire in its collections signals a broader recognition of the need for restitution and reconciliation. Greece, among other nations advocating for the return of cultural heritage, watches closely as the conversation progresses.

(Source: Daily Mail UK)

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