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France Returned 24 Skulls to Algeria. They Weren’t What They Seemed

The remarkable act of reconciliation was marked by both Algeria and France’s acceptance of the return of the 24 people’s skulls that had been taken as prizes during France’s cruel colonial reign.

The Musée de l’Homme, or Museum of Mankind, in Paris, holds one of Europe’s largest skull collections, with nearly 18,000 from around the world.Credit…Patrick Kovarik/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Algerian government presented the remains as belonging to “resistance fighters,” national heroes in Algeria for their sacrifice in driving away French colonists, and part of one of Europe’s largest skull collections at the Musée de l’Homme, or Museum of Mankind, in Paris.

Algeria, pictured at the Museum of Mankind in an undated photograph.Credit…Ali Farid Belkadi

Aymen Benabderrahmane, the Algerian prime minister, expressed his happiness with the repatriation, which took place in 2020, only this month when Élisabeth Borne, the French prime minister, visited in Algiers for a two-day visit.

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