Friday, 17 September 2010

Public Submissions Supporting the Greek Cultural Property Request to the US Government

Above I discussed a few of the recent Coiney Submissions concerning the Greek Request on the website expressing their unanimous reservations about the request to the US to curb imports of ancient artefacts illegally exported from Greece. The comments by those supporting the imposition of such restrictions on US importers of ancient artefacts are an interesting contrast to them in style, range of arguments offered and general timbre. Here are a few extracts from some interesting and worthwhile comments on what this is all about which I found :

Edward Butler
...I am confident that the MoU will promote the interchange of cultural property among nations for scientific, cultural, and educational purposes...

Benjamin Ward (Global Language Publishing)
...Any attempt to prevent the trade in illicit antiquities deserves support...

Dr. John G. Kepros
Gentlepersons, I am writing in regard to the Memorandum of Understanding proposed for the antiqities of Greece. This patrimony must not be stolen by criminals and must be protected by the agreement between Greece and the United States of America...

Alexander Nagel (Smithsonian Institution):
...I hope that in the future every student and interested layman continues to have a chance to get to know antiquities in their contexts. Please do not let the heritage left to robbers feeding the antiquities market.

Branco Dobric:
...There should not be "legal" business of buying and selling coins that are illegally taken out of Greece , Italy or some other country !

Donald Keller (American Center of Oriental Research, ACOR)
... I have seen first hand the results of pillage, grave robbing, and destruction of archaeological sites in Greece. We're not talking about a farmer finding a few ancient coins in his field. This is a case of international criminal gangs who traffic in antiquities and make use of bulldozers and dynamite. As long as there is a market these activities will continue and intensify...

Martha Payne (Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis)
...I am confident that the MoU will promote the interchange of cultural property among nations for scientific, cultural, and educational purposes.

Valerie French (Washington Society, Archaeological Institute of America)
...I fully support laws and regulations that will prevent the United States becoming a haven for stolen and looted artifacts from Greece...

Kerill O'Neill (Colby College)
...It is time to end this destruction of Greece's cultural heritage. "Collectors" are often well-intentioned people with a degree of interest in history but they are inherently selfish because there is absolutely no doubt that the lucrative market for antiquities leads directly to the destruction of sites and loss of information as thieves dig for treasures. As an archaeologist who works in Central Greece, I have seen first hand the damage done to numerous sites by tomb-robbers and other treasure-seekers. The hundreds of American students and colleague with who I have worked in Greece have all been horrified by the sight of archaeological sites torn apart by looters. I have talked with several former looters who admitted to digging rapidly through numerous archaeological strata, breaking pottery, destroying architecture, in the quest for coins, precious metals, and anything else they could sell. This loot hides amidst "legitimate" artifacts, which are usually also the products of illicit digging but from a period before UNESCO protections were in place. It is time to end this destruction of Greece's cultural heritage.

Julie Hruby
...I am unfortunately familiar first-hand with the damage that can be done to sites and to the heritage of Greece and of humanity when looters go treasure-hunting. I am confident that the Memorandum of Understanding would assist Greece in its attempts to preserve its heritage and ours.

Leigh-Ayna Passamano (Rutgers University)
...The United States is one of the largest market countries for antiquities looted from source countries such as Greece. Not establishing a Memorandum of Understanding between Greece and the United States of America will allow valuable cultural property to continue to hemorrhage from Greece; the loss of these objects is irreparable for Greece.

Jack Davis (American School of Classical Studies at Athens)
A really good and well-written contribution:
...One hardly dispute the fact that holding an ancient coin in one’s hand is exciting — even potentially educational. What is not so exciting, however, is being witness, as I have been, to the utter destruction of an ancient settlement inflicted by treasure hunters searching for antiquities — even coins that can be sold for relatively little profit in flea markets or on the Internet. Whether a million dollar statue or a ten dollar coin is concerned, the same damage [is done to ] to the cultural patrimony of Greece.

Ray Reser (University of WI)
...I cannot adequately express the importance of this type of cross-cultural agreement. Our collective past and the material evidence that enlightens us about it are a finite and fragile resource.

Philip Madruga
...I respectfully and strongly urge the Government of the United States of America to comply with the request of the Hellenic Republic [...]. The cultural patrimony of every nation is a paramount part of that nation's identity and should be honored and protected. This is a matter not just of international law/treaty but of courtesy and respect.
[Like most of the coineys, Mr Madruga seems not to be too clear what the request concerns (see the bit I deleted), but the sentiment is an important one].

John Rexine (Fine Arts Registrar, MIT List Visual Arts Center)
...I am writing to express my support for a Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and the Hellenic Republic (Greece). There is no compelling reason to deny their request for these reasonable import restrictions.

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