Thursday, 2 September 2010

AIA Urges Public Support of a US-Greek Cultural Property Agreement

The Archaeological Institute of America is the closest that country gets to a central national archaeological institution, not quite what the 1970 UNESCO Convention Art. 5 had in mind, but a stop-gap. It has launched an informative website urging archaeologists, students and the general public to send in letters commenting on the proposals to agree to check incoming ancient artefacts from Greece to see that requisite export procedures have been followed. US dealers in these ancient artefacts do not appreciate US customs looking too closely at where the items they sell come from, and are busily persuading collectors too that export licences are in some way an "evil" concept and the very idea is in some way threatening their (collectors') "rights".

Please take some time to read the dealers' arguments and some of the counterarguments easily available in the Internet in places like "Looting Matters", SAFEcorner (and if you have a stomach for it, this blog) and then take a few moments to shoot off a letter to the State Department, either on the side of the Philistine Wreckers or the Preservationists.

Please note that most of the 87 public submissions currently up on the website assume that this agreement will only cover coins and not other artefacts. This means they have not actually read the summary of the request. These are superficial knee-jerk reactions caused by shock-horror rabble rousing tactics by lobby groups such as the ACCG and also dealers such as CNG (see earlier post on this). Note the number of them that assert that the plans are allegedly to make ALL Greek coins the subject of the agreement and not just those being exported to the USA from Greece and they are expressing their opposition to moves that are not being contemplated at all. These two characteristics will presumably lead to the CPAC rejecting all these comments, because they do not actually address the questions asked. The collectors seem to think bombing the State Department with repetative but irrelevant opinion will get them an ear.

By the way, the online form allows people not living in the US to comment, obviously the US is very concerned about its image in the world, bad enough at the best of times, so if you are an outside onlooker also let the State Department know what you think about the CCPIA and the current form of the US antiquities market. Myself I would like to urge the people of the US to "say no to Plunder, say yes to bilateral cultural agreements" to curb illegal exports of archaeological material.

See also the SAFE comments on this.

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