British Museum to help dig for Nigerian treasures

Publishedduration16 hours agoimage copyrightBritish Museumimage captionAn artist's impression of the planned new museum in Benin City

The British Museum has announced plans to help "investigate the history of the Kingdom of Benin", with a grand archaeology mission and new museum.

The organisation will work with Nigerian teams on the creation of a new Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA) and accompanying archaeology project.

The plan represents one of largest physical projects the British Museum has ever undertaken outside the UK.

It comes after calls for it to return stolen artefacts to the ancient city.

Historians say Benin City, formerly known as Edo, boasted earthen walls longer than the Great Wall of China.

Broadcaster and author Stephen Fry last week shared a petition encouraging the museum to give back its Benin Bronzes; as well as returning the famous Elgin Marbles to the city of Athens.

The British Museum, which has some 950 Benin Bronzes, has come under particular criticism for its refusal to give them back, but is only one of many museums struggling to justify the legitimacy of its collection.