Conservation of Antiquities in British Dependencies


    THE Trustees of the British Museum (Blooms-bury) are to be congratulated on the acquisition of the remarkably fine bronze head from Southern Nigeria, to which reference was made in Nature of July 15, p. 106. Not only is this an outstanding example of the highly developed artistic products of early West African culture, but also it belongs to a class of objects to which additions available for study in European collections are likely to be restricted in number in future. Since the beginning of the century, and arising possibly in a great measure from the publication of the bronzes and other artistic objects from Benin in the Pitt-Rivers collections, interest in and appreciation of the merits of the various schools of sculptural art native to African culture has increased rapidly and become widespread. In consequence, a number of characteristic examples, and many of exceptional merit, have been brought to Europe by collectors. During the past twenty years it has been known that bronze heads of remarkable character have been found from time to time in the course of excavation at Ifé in the Yoruba country of Southern Nigeria; but the discovery there in 1938 of a number of such examples of the artistic skill of an ancient and forgotten people, of which this British Museum acquisition is one, has quickened interest in these and similar objects of “high antiquity, artistic merit, and uncertain cultural origin”, and as a result has induced those in authority to take steps to secure that West Africa should not be denuded of such interesting and important relics of its past.

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    Conservation of Antiquities in British Dependencies. Nature 144, 261–262 (1939).

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