S. Waziri Hassan

Selling African Human Remains To The Highest Bidder

UK Auction House Slammed Over Sale of African Human Remains.

Do you feel like owning a beautiful African skull, or practicing some real juju, voodoo, or ‘Witch craft’ like the way the English language terms it! Well think no further, no need of visiting the famous fetish market in the Republic of Togo “Akodessawa” in Lome.

You can get these precious African remains in a UK Auction House. Yes you heard me clearly, I just said in the mighty United Kingdoms.  Auctioned for as low as 200 pounds.

A British auction House, Semley Auctions, based in Dorset is said to have a large collection of Egyptian antiques for sale. While this is hardly news, what has interested the general public is the fact that more than 15 of these relics are old Egyptian human skulls, which were exhibited on the auction house’s official website. The art and antiques market on the website covers several different categories, including fine art, decorative arts and many others but what raised the public dismay was the display of African skulls for sale.

According to Sputnik, the skulls are from the collections of Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers, a 19th Century(1881) British Commander, referred to as “The Father of British Archeology”, who amassed an array of antiquities, including weaponry, ceremonial objects, jewelry and human remains. Originally the remains were unearthed from the Tombs in El-Wadi, in the Southwestern regions of Egypt in North Africa.

The human skulls which consist often male skulls, five female, and three unknown, were going for 200-300sterling pounds.

Some of the skulls are said to date back to 1550-1292 BC, from the region of Thebes, about 3000 years ago.

The auctioning of the skulls, sparked conversations about morality of selling human remains, with experts questioning the laws that had allowed for this sort of sale to be legal.

British museum specialist, Dan Hicks, told the media that seeing the skulls for sale was ‘quite a shocker’.

‘Every generation or so, surely we need to check-in on our ethical compass on these questions and just ask, is this really right?’ -he said.

Laura Van Broekhoven, director of the Pitt Rivers Museum, allegedly stated that she is ‘really surprised that auction houses are still doing this.’

‘I would hope that we would stop selling and commodifying human remains of communities that really have tried to have dignified ways of, and usually ritual ways, of dealing with their ancestors.’ -she said.

A 3rd party listings website, The Saleroom, has also come under fire for promoting the auction listing, given that the company’s own policy prohibits the sale of human remains.

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