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a. war spoils

The 'Bronzes' were initially valorised as war spoils symbolising British triumph and prestige, contributing to the the narrative of a civilised nation (Britain) successfully taming a barbaric, degenerate society (Benin).

These included:• the Greeks; put forward by German archaeologist Leo Frobenius • the Portuguese; put forward by Charles Read and Ormond Dalton - workers at the British Museum during the late nineteenth and early twenty-first century.

b. locating the origins

The origins of the Bronzes and the techniques used were attempted to be located in other parts of the world that was not Africa. This links back to the imperialist conception of Africans (in this case the Edo people) as innately inferior, hence incapable of producing art like the Bronzes.

c. commodification

As interest from collectors grew (especially once African origin was confirmed), the objects became commodified collection pieces, deprived of its sanctity and historical value; they slowly became appreciated as works of art in the twentieth century, and objects of national prestige in the British Museum.

d. colonial injustice

Years later, with widespread calls for repatriation of cultural items taken by colonial powers around the world, the Benin Bronzes became public embodiments of colonial injustice and brutality – and the British Museum has yet to return these items, which has only fuelled controversy . . .