Set of artifacts that were reclaimed fro the American University in Cairo- press photo
CAIRO - 16 July 2017: The American University in Cairo (AUC) will return 5,000 historical pieces to the Egyptian government, according to an AUC statement on Sunday.
The historical antiques were granted legally to the AUC in the 1960s; however, the school decided to give them back to the Egyptian government within the framework of the AUC initiative to protect the Egyptian artifacts, the statement said.
The 5,000 antiques belong to the Islamic, Coptic, Pharaonic, Greek and Roman eras.
“Although the AUC legally owns and protected these antiques for long years, Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities must restore them,” said 12th president of the AUC Francis J. Ricciardone.
Ricciardone added that “Egyptology is one of the most favorite departments in the AUC in the past years, and these antiques must go back to their home."
Zahi Hawas, former minister of antiquities, praised the AUC initiative. He affirmed that in 2011, “the Ministry of Antiquities gave these antiques to the AUC legally for cooperation with it in digging activities for educational purposes.”
“These historical pieces seem simple, but they help us understand the nature of Egyptian society at these eras,” head of the AUC Egyptology Department Selima Ekram said.
According to the Egyptian Antiques Law No. 215 for 1951, foreign missions that take part in the digging activities can obtain 50 percent of the antiques found during the digging cooperation.
The Ministry of Antiquities assigned a committee to check the antiques obtained by the AUC twice a year. In May 2015, the committee coordinated with the AUC administration to restore all the antiques.
“The restoration of these antiques is great news,” Hawas added. He wishes other institutions join in that initiative.
Hawas said, “Ricciardone will be mentioned in history for his bravery in taking that decision.”