African History

Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye will lead design of the new Heritage District, a center dedicated to teaching about the history and impact of the transatlantic slave trade.

History of Now

After Breaking Ties With Britain, Barbados Announces Heritage District Tracing Slavery's Toll

The four-phase project will include a museum, global research center and memorial

New memorials provide a bare outline of the lives of two Black victims killed during the Holocaust.

New Memorials in Berlin Honor the Holocaust's Overlooked Black Victims

Two brass "stumbling stones" are among the first to memorialize the Afro-German people murdered by the Nazis

A high-necked polychrome pot, created sometime between 1100 and 1400 B.C.E., was among the more than 900 items returned to Mali.

The U.S. Returns More Than 900 Stolen Artifacts to Mali

American authorities seized the presumably looted objects, which were listed as replicas, in 2009

In his new book Around the World in 80 Books, David Damrosch builds an itinerary that circumnavigates the globe—and doesn't require a passport to enjoy.

Virtual Travel

A Literary Scholar Takes Us Around the World in Eighty Books

Harvard professor David Damrosch's new release has readers traveling to London, Paris, Nigeria, Tokyo and beyond without ever leaving home

This 16th- or 17th-century copper alloy plaque—one of the ten Benin Bronzes removed from view—depicts a high-ranking warrior flanked by musicians and a page holding a ceremonial sword.

History of Now

Why the Smithsonian's Museum of African Art Removed Its Benin Bronzes From View

Displaying the looted artworks does "a huge amount of harm,” says director Ngaire Blankenberg, who has affirmed her commitment to repatriating the objects

Yale's namesake sits at the center of this group portrait, Elihu Yale With Members of His Family and an Enslaved Child (circa 1719, attributed to John Verelst).

Who Is the Enslaved Child in This Portrait of Yale University's Namesake?

Scholars have yet to identify the young boy, but new research offers insights on his age and likely background

Rhodes left Oxford's Oriel College around $17 million in today's money.

Why a New Plaque Next to Oxford's Cecil Rhodes Statue Is So Controversial

The sign identifies the 19th-century statesman as a "committed British colonialist"

Abdulrazak Gurnah, 73, was awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.

Abdulrazak Gurnah, Chronicler of Migrant Experience, Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature

The Zanzibar-born author of ten novels tells richly detailed stories about people living "in the gulf between cultures and continents"

"Remember Me," now on view at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, unites more than 100 European Renaissance portraits. Pictured here is Albrecht Dürer's 1508 chalk sketch of an unidentified African man.

Display of 100 Renaissance Portraits Underscores Humans' Enduring Desire to Be Remembered

An exhibition at the Rijksmuseum unites two early likenesses of African men in Europe, among other 15th- and 16th-century masterpieces

Alula Pankhurst, a member of Ethiopia’s National Heritage Restitution Committee, calls the objects' return the “single most significant heritage restitution in Ethiopia’s history.”

Looted Maqdala Treasures Returned to Ethiopia After 150 Years

A nonprofit foundation purchased the objects, which were seized by British troops in 1868, with the aim of restituting them

The Ifesowapo dùndún ensemble performing in Igbo Ora, southwest Nigeria

How Does the West African Talking Drum Accurately Mimic Human Speech?

A new study explores how the dùndún replicates tones and patterns of the Yorùbá language

Researchers analyzed the Sudanese landscape with a model originally created to analyze the spatial patterns of stars and galaxies.

These Medieval Islamic Tombs in Sudan Were Laid Out Like Galaxies

Some of the burials appear to be clustered around "parent" funerary mounds of seeming cultural significance

The church may be the largest ever found in Nubia.

Cool Finds

Ruins of Monumental Church Linked to Medieval Nubian Kingdom Found in Sudan

The building complex was likely the seat of Christian power for Makuria, which was once as large as France and Spain combined

Researchers say the incisors' removal may have served as an indicator of social status or membership in a specific group.

Why Are These Medieval-Era Skulls Found in Gabon Missing Their Front Teeth?

Intact, 500-year-old upper jaws discovered in an African cave bear evidence of deliberate facial modification

Detail from a manuscript made for King Lebna Dengel, circa 1520, Tädbabä Maryam Monastery, Ethiopia.

A New History Changes the Balance of Power Between Ethiopia and Medieval Europe

For centuries, a Eurocentric worldview disregarded the knowledge and strength of the African empire

Archaeologists are working to decipher the slab's 15 lines of hieroglyphs.

Cool Finds

Farmer Stumbles Onto Egyptian Pharaoh's 2,600-Year-Old Stone Slab

The large sandstone marker may be connected to a military campaign led by the 26th dynasty ruler Apries

Complicated adventures await Loki, the "god of mischief," played by Tom Hiddleston in the new Disney+ series produced by Marvel Studios.

A Folklorist Explains Loki's Place in Mythology's Pantheon of Trickster Heroes

Smithsonian's James Deutsch says that behind the character in the new Marvel Studios series lies the oft-told story of "guile" outsmarting authority

Two protesters hold a sign reading "Reparations to descendants instead of 'development aid' to Namibia" at a demonstration in Berlin on May 28. That day, the German foreign minister formally acknowledged the Herero and  Nama genocide and promised €1.1 billion in infrastructure aid—but stopped short of labeling the effort "reparations."

History of Now

Germany Acknowledges Genocide in Namibia but Stops Short of Reparations

Between 1904 and 1908, colonial forces murdered tens of thousands of Herero and Nama people

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