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Red List of African Archaeological Objects

The looting of archaeological items and the destruction of archaeological sites in Africa are a cause of irreparable damage to African history and hence to the history of humankind. Whole sections of our history have been wiped out and can never be reconstituted. These objects cannot be understood once they have been removed from their archaeological context and divorced from the whole to which they belong. Only professional archaeological excavations can help recover their identity, their date and their location. But so long as there is demand from the international art market these objects will be looted and offered for sale.

In response of this urgent situation, a list of categories of African archaeological objects particularly at risk from looting was drawn up at the Workshop on the Protection of the African Cultural Heritage held in Amsterdam from 22 to 24 October 1997. Organised by ICOM (International Council of Museums), within the framework of its AFRICOM programme, it brought together professionals from African, European and North American museums to set up a common policy for fighting against the illicit traffic in African cultural property, and to promote regional and international agreements.

These objects are among the cultural goods most affected by looting and theft. They are protected by national legislation, banned from export, and may under no circumstances be put on sale.


An appeal is therefore being made to museums, auction houses, art dealers and collectors to stop buying them.

This list is of objects which are particularly at risk, but in no way should it be considered exhaustive. The question of the legality of export arises with regard to any archaeological item.

 

Download the Red List of African Archaeological Objects in English and French 

 

 

List of object categories

Statue from the Bura system, terracotta

Bura system

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Material
Ceramics | Metals | Stone
Type
Utensils and vessels | Sculptures | Religious and ceremonial objects | Accessories and jewellery | Tools and weapons
Countries
Burkina Faso | Niger
Period
Bura system
Sao terracotta

Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria

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Material
Ceramics | Metals
Type
Religious and ceremonial objects | Utensils and vessels | Sculptures
Countries
Chad | Cameroon | Nigeria
Period
2nd century BC onwards
Esie statue, soapstone

Esie

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Material
Stone
Type
Sculptures
Countries
Nigeria
Period
Esie
Ife head, terracotta

Ife

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Material
Ceramics | Metals
Type
Sculptures
Countries
Nigeria
Period
11th - 15th centuries
Jenne statue, terracotta

Niger Valley

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Material
Ceramics | Metals
Type
Utensils and vessels | Sculptures
Countries
Mali
Period
Mali
Nok head, terracotta

Nok

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Material
Ceramics
Type
Sculptures
Countries
Nigeria
Period
Nok
Fuenral stele, stone

Northern Burkina Faso and neighbouring regions

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Material
Stone
Type
Sculptures | Religious and ceremonial objects
Countries
Burkina Faso
Period
Burkina Faso, Yatenga and Soum
Komaland Janus head, terracotta

Northern Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire

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Material
Ceramics | Stone
Type
Sculptures | Religious and ceremonial objects
Countries
Ghana | Côte d'Ivoire
Period
14th - 18th centuries