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Cyclone_1 t1_iubiaby wrote

> The authorities in Zimbabwe have long suspected that the remains of some of the leaders of an uprising against British rule in the 1890s - known as the First Chimurenga - were taken to the UK as trophies.

> The most significant among them was a woman who became known as Mbuya Nehanda. She was executed in what is now the capital, Harare and is revered as a national heroine.

Anyone who knows anything about the behavior of the colonialists (UK, France, Belgium, etc.) back then would absolutely suspect the very same thing that the authorities in Zimbabwe suspect. There is very little chance that they are wrong.


SterlingMNO t1_iubjtyc wrote

You may as well list most of Europe in there really.

And true, but also pretty unlikely any trophies ended up in the museum and if they did, basically impossible to prove, as the article says as much. Seems they have some remains and it sounds like the only ones that have records are ones that are from archeological digs.

Likely any trophies were studied biologically/medically and there's no revereance attached to the remains for them to be held and considered as historic pieces, at least not enough to be labeled, probably not kept either.


Cyclone_1 t1_iubk2zv wrote

> You may as well list most of Europe in there really.

No argument there.

But yeah, again, anyone who knows anything about the behavior and mentality of the colonizers back then would say that there is a very strong likelihood that the authorities in Zimbabwe are far and away likely to be correct in their assumption.


SterlingMNO t1_iubkbrq wrote

Probably, find it really unlikely they'll be found though, I think they'd be long gone, or kept as private tropphies until eventually disappearing into the void of time. Even today if you took a wartime trophy, you're not heading home to take it to the authorities, your ancestors might donate it but as a skull rather than "skull of xyz", in which case most museums probably wouldn't want it.


Cyclone_1 t1_iubkjhh wrote

Sure but this article, unless I am misunderstanding something here, seemed to indicate that London's Natural History Museum and Cambridge University have these skulls and are willing to cooperate in their return.

The authorities in Zimbabwe suspect that they were brought back to the UK in the first place as trophies.


SterlingMNO t1_iublavw wrote

> In doing a search of its archive, the Natural History Museum did uncover 11 remains "that appear to be originally from Zimbabwe" - but its records do not connect them with Nehanda. These include three skulls taken in 1893, thought to be from Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, as well as remains uncovered in mineshafts and archaeological digs and later donated.

Only states they have remains connected to Zimbabwe, mostly through archeological digs, and some stuff that has no records because of how old it is and likely just used in the study of phrenology. Not the remains Zimbabwe are specifically asking for.

Still a win for Zimbabwe I guess, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say even if the NHM says "These skulls are not the ones you're looking for", Zimbabwe officials are still just gonna declare they've recovered the remains of Nehanda as a political win, which is fine I guess. I can't imagine anyone protesting to human remains being returned, short of a Pharoah himself.


Cyclone_1 t1_iublfwz wrote

Ah gotcha. I must have missed that. Sometimes the way BBC loads on my phone, it doesn't make for the best end-user experience. Thanks for highlighting that. I see what you were saying now.


SterlingMNO t1_iublrq2 wrote

You think BBC's bad on mobile, you should see literally any UK tabloid on mobile. It's like being back in 2002 using WAP.


Cyclone_1 t1_iublzf0 wrote

Good fucking lord. Guardian is like that too for me sometimes now that I think of it. I swear there are at least a couple of paragraphs sometimes that I truly don't even see, so I comment on something and I must come off like I didn't even read the thing at all.


SterlingMNO t1_iubmjsw wrote

Guardian is utter dogshit like all the rest of them so it's probably for the best ;)


JudasWasJesus t1_iucnsar wrote

Europeans did/do keep remains as trophies.

Belgium refuse to return remains (a single tooth) of Zimbabwe first prime minster lumumba assinated in 1961


worthing0101 t1_iue7u5j wrote

>Belgium refuse to return remains

Seems on brand for a country that also put Congolese men, women and children in the world's last human zoo for the 1958 world's fair:

>The 1958 exhibit was smaller in scale, but similar in content. A “typical” village was set up, where the Congolese spent their days carrying out their crafts by straw huts while they were mocked by the white men and women who stood at the edge. > >“If there was no reaction, they threw money or bananas over the closure of bamboo,” one journalist wrote at the time of the spectators. > >Another report told of people gossiping about “seeing the negros at the zoological gardens”


DirkBabypunch t1_iucfoc7 wrote

>Likely any trophies were studied biologically/medically

For actual reasons, or you think it was that "These cranial ridges are different from proper European cranial ridges, and therefore we are inherently smarter and more superior" bullshit?


aciddrizzle t1_iucs4wq wrote

Any remains located with intact ancient DNA can potentially be repatriated. We don’t always need to label things, we just need to read the labels they’ve already got.


SterlingMNO t1_iudtcxj wrote

I don't really know what you're saying. They're not going to be DNA testing every skull or bone they have.

And the bit about labels I have no idea. Read the article.


aciddrizzle t1_iue0vku wrote

The field of ancient DNA has been supercharged in the past few years, some labs are able to process samples very efficiently and in relatively high volumes. There’s a lot of interest in looking at existing source material for examination, with the thinking that it’s easier to test a sample that’s already been found rather than one that’s still in the ground.

So places like museums, university archaeology departments, etc become very interesting in this regard. Repatriation is an outcome here, but in some ways it’s really a possible side effect because these analyses can tell us a lot about lots of topics where data is hard to come by.

In particular, looking at these sources to identify potential ghost populations/novel archaic hominids shows a lot of potential, with the speculation that lots of things have been called things like “Homo Habilis” (which sort of looks like an ‘other’ drawer right now) may actually belong to Denisovans, or be cool finds like the half-Denisovan/half-Neanderthal sample, or things we don’t know about yet.

There’s a lot of back-and-forth here because lots of institutions aren’t exactly rushing out to learn where these things came from when the implications of knowing can be challenging in the current atmosphere, especially since losing the artifacts is a real outcome.

So it’s perhaps a bit of a cop out to throw one’s hands up and say “no labels, can’t know”. Even when a sample is too old to provide ancient DNA, skulls can often be analyzed using things like dental proteomics.

It’s not a guaranteed success every time, but it might be useful to understand what in these collections could potentially be sampled and maybe to figure out a way to go about it, but lots of institutions have a preference toward not knowing if they can help it.


SterlingMNO t1_iue2oic wrote

You should've just taken my advice and read the article.

The remains Zimbabwe are after are from 1890. No known ancestors.

I appreciate your lesson on DNA extraction and study, it's genuinely interesting, but it's not relevant. This repatriation with Zimbabwe has been ongoing for almost a decade, the first iteration was just like this, Natural History Museum saying "we have some remains from digs", and Zimbabwe saying "We have found Nehanda!". Zimbabwe can't confirm who the remains belong to so they will just assume, as they already have.


HoopOnPoop t1_iubj4gt wrote

Willing to return the skulls of people they slaughtered? Well golly that's mighty fine of them.


SterlingMNO t1_iubjvxm wrote

Who's they? Museum director must be old as fuck.


[deleted] t1_iubvx48 wrote



Kelbotay t1_iue0xk1 wrote

Probably because it's mentioned who 'they' is in the article. As well as how and who was responsible for those remains ending up in museums.


SterlingMNO t1_iue441x wrote

> who 'they' is in the article

The natural history museum? Last I checked they didn't slaughter anyone, and it's boring having this constant trend of people being held responsible for someone they have ties to from over a hundred years ago.


Chris_M_23 t1_iuek2kt wrote

Genuinely the most shocking news I’ve read all day


nahbruh27 t1_iubtd77 wrote

Shoutout John Oliver for starting this wave of recent returns