Friday 9 April 2010

Support US Co-operation with Italian Archaeological Heritage Preservation Efforts

Please take some time to explore the Archaeological Institute of America Resource on urging continued US support of the efforts of Italy to protect the archaeological heritage from looting to fuel the illicit antiquities market, the antithesis of the efforts of the US collectors of said antiquities to hinder this process by every means they can. Responsible collectors will support the AIA position.
On May 6-7, 2010, the State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) will consider renewing the Memorandum of Understanding with Italy by which the United States helps preserve that country’s rich archaeological heritage. CPAC has called for written comments and it is extremely important that archaeologists, students and the general public send in letters showing their support. The deadline for submitting a letter is April 22, 2010 so please act quickly ! This page gives you information about CPAC, lets you download templates for letters, and gives a few suggestions for further reading. Letters can be faxed to 202-632-6300 or attached to an e-mail sent to (limit 5 pages). Letters should not be sent by regular mail.
What is an MoU? [...]
How can you help? [...]
What should a letter look like? [...]
More resources[...]
The AIA has prepared two documents with more information about CPAC and MoUs:
United States Implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention: The Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act
Cultural Property Implementation Act Fact Sheet
State Department Websites
Cultural Heritage Center
Information about the MoU with Italy
Since the collectors have whipped up a lot of emails calling for the "internationalist" (free for all) approach to antiquities imports, anyone with an interest in helping preserve the archaeological record will be interested in adding their voice to counter the collectors' nonsense.
By all means read the collectors' reasons for opposing import vigilance. they are quite an eyye-opener as to what is going on in the US trade of antiquities. Apparently actually having valid export licences for the antiquities imported from Italy "will add to the cost" of collectable antiquities. That is an astounding pronouncement - it implies that artefacts are currently on open sale by those dealers which are "cheaper" because they were imported but do not have valid export licences. Astounding.

Also be it noted that the main focus of the collectors' "internationalist" claptrap is on whether ancient coins "should" be included (actually a foregone conclusion - they are archaeological artefacts so should be included under that heading). Despite this, the AIA page gives the four main topics that the CPAC would appreciate hearing thoughts on. Coins are not mentioned in that list, whether or not they are specifically included in an itemised list is just one (minor) issue here. If however you feel like addressing the coiney issue, please note that any amendment to the MOU would most likely include "ancient coins" (so Greek too). For some reason the coineys have got the wrong end of the stick and they are busily berating the CPAC about (just) "Roman" coins. More irrationally, somebody (well, actually dealers Wayne Sayles adn Alfredo De La Fe) has led them to believe that this does not include only export of dugup items from Italian soil, but "potentially any object created under the aegis of the Romans", ie anywhere in the Roman Empire. No wonder all those collectors of bucketloads of coins looted from Bulgarian and Near Eastern sites by criminals so hot under the collar about this. Of course this is pure nonsense. None of these collectors has even confirmation that coins are going as an itemised category into the amended MOU, and nobody has seen the proposed wording, so where this came from is anybody's guess. Needless to say, this is a foundationless speculation only intended to get generally hardly-literate coineys reaching for their pens before thinking through what they need to write.

Now, their propagandists are depicting this as "THE BIG ONE - A MAGNITUDE 10 TOTAL SEISMIC DISASTER THAT WILL END COLLECTING OF ANCIENT COINS IF IT GOES THROUGH", he forgot to add "AS WE KNOW IT". If coin dealers are encouraged to clean up their act this can only be a good thing. Hardly then a "seismic disaster" for the archaeological record. Please consider adding your voice to the AIA support for the idea that the USA, as Senior Special Agent James McAndrew of ICE (Homeland Security Department) mentioned at the Cairo Conference the day before yesterday, the largest potential market for looted ancient artefacts, should be providing moral leadership here.

I will be posting my letter to the CPAC after the weekend, the first draft is too long.

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