In a new initiative by the American University in Cairo, the prominent university decided to gift nearly 5,000 antiquities, it has legally possessed since the 1960s, to the Egyptian government, according to AUC Egypt website.

“People have to know that all these artifacts were given to AUC by law from the Antiquities Department as a division of the findings from excavation work," says famed Egyptologist and former minister of antiquities Zahi Hawwas, who expressed his enthusiasm about the aforementioned initiative.

The collection was used for teaching in the university's Egyptology department, with most of it dating back to the 10th and 11th centuries. The 5,000 pieces mostly consist of pottery shards, pieces of fabric, glass fragments, beads and some coins, which helped to "fill in the blanks to understand what people ate, their social class and trade in the region", according to the AUC's Egyptology department head Salima Ikram."Though we legally possessed these artifacts and scrupulously preserved and protected them over so many years, we took the initiative to transfer these important antiquities to the Ministry of Antiquities because we felt that this should be their rightful home," says AUC president Francis J. Ricciardone. 

Pictures: AUC Egypt