Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Not "Just America": New Antiquity Laws in Israel

 According to the Israeli Antiquities Authority, “until recently antiquities dealers and other entities have exploited loopholes in the law whereby they brought antiquities into the country for the purpose of ‘laundering’ them.” In Israel owners of stolen artifacts can obtain documentation that would enable them to be sold in the open market as “artifacts… ostensibly of Israeli provenance.” I have written many times about this on this blog and discussed a few worrying specific cases. The Jerusalem Post article on the Egyptian sarcophagi story (Oren Kessler, 'IAA seizes stolen Egyptian sarcophagi in Old City', 4th March 2012) like several other parallel accounts, announces a dramatic turn of events concerning this aspect of the Israeli antiquities market. In the past the legislation concerned items dug up IN Israel only, so artefacts dug up in neighbouring countries (Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Iraq for example) if they could be brought through the borders could be 'legally' exported with an Israeli Antiquities authority export licence. Not any more they cannot. The Antiquities Authority says it is battling to end the practice of smuggling artefacts through Israel.
Shai Bar-Tura of the Antiquities Authority’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery said that starting April 20, Israel will only allow the import of antiquities certified to have been legally exported from their country of origin. “The new regulation will provide us with the tools needed in order to prevent the importation into the country of antiquities that were stolen or plundered in other countries, thus enabling us to thwart the international cycle of robbery and trade in stolen archeological artifacts,” he said.
While many other countries have similar legislation, it is nice that this news comes out the day ACCG Executive Director Sayles gets an article in the Huffington Post saying the US is the "only" country in the world which has such legislation which "discriminate against" collectors that want to buy antiquities unlawfully exported from other countries.

 I do not expect this is news that "Cultural property Observer" will be covering.

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