CAIRO: Britain has sent back to Egypt some 25,000 ancient artifacts, some dating as far back as the stone age, Egypt s culture minister said on Thursday.
The artifacts, packaged in 85 boxes returned to Cairo aboard an Egyptian flight on Wednesday, Farouk Hosni said in a statement.
Retrieving the items came after long negotiations with the University of London, antiquities chief Zahi Hawass told AFP.
The artifacts include a stone axe that dates back 200,000 years as well as pottery from the seventh millennium BC which bears the finger prints of its producers, the ministry said.
The artifacts will constitute the foundation for a collection from the (pre-dynastic) Naqada period, named after a village in southern Egypt which represented one of the oldest centers of civilization in the world, Hawass said.
They will be displayed at the Ahmed Fakhri Museum, currently under construction in Dakhla, an oasis in Egypt s western desert.
Since becoming head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in 2002, Hawass says the latest recoveries bring to 31,000 the number of relics brought back to Egypt.
Egypt is due to host a conference in April demanding the return of its antiquities, stolen but on display in museums around the world.
Thirty countries, including Greece, Mexico, Peru, Afghanistan, Iraq, Cambodia and China, will participate in the Cairo gathering. -AFP