Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Charade Continues

With a stubbornness which really should be reserved for nobler matters, every US antiquity collector's favourite lawyer Peter Tompa attempts to justify his earlier claim that what the Greeks have asked the US government is "probably" to introduce import restrictions to repatriate every Greek coin in the western hemisphere back to Greece. After searching the internet for proof he triumphantly announces ("Whatever is Greek, wherever in the world, we want back.") that that in 2006 the then Greek Minister of Culture Georgios Voulgarakis told the Guardian: "Whatever is Greek, wherever in the world, we want back", ("We're not talking about a handful, we're talking about hundreds of artefacts that have ended up in many different places"). Scary stuff eh? Well, especially if you do not read to the end of the paragraph: "">We will only demand repatriation where there is very strong evidence it has been sold illegally".Tompa however ignores what it says below and comments that:
this request for an MOU is part of this push, but how does Greece and the State Department really define "whatever is Greek?" Is it: Artifacts proven to be illicitly excavated in Greece? And/or is it: Artifacts for which there is undisputed scholarly evidence they could only have come from Greek contexts? And/or is it: Anything that could have been manufactured in Greece? It will be important for Greece (and the AIA) to clearly and publicly define "What is Greek" for purposes of CPAC's upcoming review of the Greek MOU.

One would have thought that a "culture property" lawyer worth his salt would look at the convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act which defines which objects are covered....

19 U.S.C. 2601 et seq. p. 11 SECTION 2606. IMPORT RESTRICTIONS
(a) Documentation of lawful exportation
No designated archaeological or ethnological material that is exported (whether or not such exportation is to the United States) from the State Party after the designation of such material under section 2604 of this title may be imported into the United States unless the State Party issues a certification or other...
Now that seems pretty clear to me. Why can't the coin collectors writing in their droves now to the US State Department with their nonsensical objections first check what it actually is they are objecting to? Funnily enough at least two of those whose ill-informed coin-centred submissions I read the other day are coin-collecting lawyers. Weird.

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