He had less success, however, in persuading Britain to return a treasure trove of several hundred sacred manuscripts and tablets seized as war booty during Robert Napier’s campaign against King Theodore of Abyssinia in 1868.
Napier led a strategically brilliant campaign against Theodore’s mountain fortress at Magdala, where the king had taken two British diplomats and scores of protestant missionaries hostage.
Many of the tablets, known as tabots, showed depictions of the Ark of the Covenant, believed by many Ethiopians to be in their country. Much of the Mandala treasure, still highly venerated in Ethiopia, remains in various locations in Britain, including the British Museum and the British Library.
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