In 1862, The King of Abyssinia which now is known as Ethiopia was called Tewodros II. He sent a letter asking for help from the British Queen Victoria. Tewodros II requested weapons and military support to his country against neighbor countries of extreme Muslims and block the spread of Islam. He never received a response from the queen, so the King Tewodros II grew impatient. He soon discovered that Captain Charles Cameron who was the British Consul of Abyssinia at the time had just returned from Egypt, he was an enemy of Abyssinia. In spite of this, he decided to capture Captain Cameron and British hostages which included children, women, and men until he received a response from the queen. It was believed that these hostages were missionaries.
Robert Napier who was the commanding chief of Bombay Army. Also, he was known as the British Indian Army. Napier and others which include around 13,000 soldiers, 8,000 auxiliary workers and thousands of animals like mules, camels, and elephants sent out an expedition. They set out from Bombay on December 21, 1867, and took them over two weeks to reach Annesley Bay by boat(the coast of Africa) where they set up their base. A long journey was ahead of them, that took two and a half months over mountains, with heavy rain passing through a very tough, unforgiving environment. Robert and his troops went to Ethiopia to rescue the hostages and win the battle of Magdala which it was taken in 1868 with the duration of four days.
Before the troops were able to reach Magdala they had to get past a large plateau at Arogya. British troops could see the Abyssinian soldiers camped out with heavy artillery. Unexpectedly the Abyssinian soldiers left their defensive positions and the British and Indian troops responded to the charge of Abyssinian warriors. The firepower from the British side was very powerful, turned into a devastating turn out for Abyssinia. In just ninety minutes the Abyssinians lost over 500 troops and thousands injured survivors retreated back to Magdala.
Tewodros wanted to surrender and sent two hostages in an attempt to make peace. Napier requested all hostages to be returned, but Tewodros did not comply. Later Napier encountered the hostages’ bodies at the bottom of the cliff, they wanted revenge so the British soldiers went to look for Theodoros II but when they arrived they saw Tewodros body’s because he shot himself with a gun that is believed to have been given to him by British Queen gave to him as a gift.
After the battle, ancient artifacts and various items were then transported by over fifteen elephants and two hundred miles. There was no written list or record of which items had been sold.
The British and Indian soldiers stole the artifacts of Ethiopia which one of the antique objects were the golden crown, nowadays it is exhibited in the museum of Britain such as the British Museum, British Library and the Victoria and Albert Museum, including Queens library at W. Many of the artifacts were sold to get money for the British troops, and the ones which it was not sold it was a gift for Queen Victoria.
Today there still is a lot of evidence to confirm this time in history. There is a road known as “kings road” many people today go to walk to the path, which leads you closer to the base of the cliff. Tourist can view the location of Tewodros suicide which marks the location of his first burial site.
These days it has been creating an association called “LaAFROMET (Association For the Return of the Magdala Ethiopian Treasures)” which is seeking the return of Ethiopian artifacts. After the war of Magdala among Ethiopians and the British, the army of United Kingdom stole objects of Magdala for two different reasons: The first reason was to donate objects with more value to Queen Victoria, and the second reason was to donate objects with less value and thus to be able to raise money for the army, the money was split between them as a gift after having defeated the Ethiopians during the Battle of Magdala. Also, Richard Holmes who was an assistant in the British museum accompanied the British Army when they stole the objects, he destroyed some historical objects and also made a sketch of the face of the emperor of Ethiopia ( Tewodros II ) in order to publish it in the British press.
The treasures were deposited at the Museum Kensington, the United Kingdom and today are exhibited in the museum itself. It is also shown the sketch of the emperor made by Richard Holmes.
Quote: “The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.” __ Unknown author