Thursday 20 May 2010

Italy to Try "Partnership" with Tombaroli?

Over on the Cultural Property Observer blog is a series of accounts of the impressions of several people on the recent CPAC meeting concerning the extension of the MOU on restricyting imports of antiquities to those that have been legally exported and which dealers are currently fighting. Most of it is pretty unexciting, moaning about how the collector lobby is victimised, misunderstood and misrepresented, and how the Italians cannot be trusted to deal with their own cultural property. Such is the credo of the blog owner, and the main reason that blog is worth reading is as an insight into the mindset of the collector.

My eye however was caught by another feature. The first of a series of six (!) lengthy moans contains the account of the presentation of Stefano de Caro,"an archaeologist with the Italian Ministry of Culture". De Caro discussed looting of archaeological sites in Italy:
He indicated that the looting situation has improved somewhat due to the work of the Carabinieri, but looting is now a criminal enterprise that relies on illegal aliens as diggers.
So rather like the situation in Bulgaria discussed here earlier.

In another post on his blog (an "Interim review"), Tompa says that: De Caro belittled the U.K. Treasure program and suggested Italy's efforts to seek import restrictions on coins was done not only on Italy's behalf, but also to defend "Pax Britannia," "Pax Africa," etc. While I have no idea of what the Observer meant by the latter remark, the first is of interest. I cannot see how De Caro could "belittle" the British Treasure "Program"(Sic, he means legislation) since in effect that legislation is very much the same as the Italian with regard certain types of finds. Nevertheless despite reportedly belittling the British system, in a further post on the CPAC hearing (“Report on CPAC Hearing on Italian MOU-Part VI"), The Observer notes:
Prof. Reid (Museum) asked de Caro if Italy would contemplate something akin to the United Kingdom's Portable Antiquities Scheme. De Caro indicated there was talk about a pilot program in two regions in the North that were away from archaeologically sensitive areas.
A pilot PAS in two regions of Italy? Why? So let us get this right, archaeologists from the Italian Ministry of Culture would be working together with artefact hunters and collectors, asking them (voluntarily) to show what archaeological finds they have dug up so they can then keep it?

Vignette: An Italian Mad Achaeology Hatter's Tea Party on the cards?

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