Sunday 26 December 2010

Cyprus Collections Against the Law?

Blogger Peter Tompa takes exception to my recent comparison of the recording of artefacts held in private hands in Cyprus with Great Britain's PAS. He says they are not the same thing at all and finds it "inexplicable" that somebody should say they are. Cultural Property lawyer Tompa seems to be suggesting that that the private collecting of antiquities in Cyprus is forbidden and only survives due to "corruption". ("...the fact there is one law for the wealthy collector, another for everyone else"). The Cypriot legislation ('the Antiquities Act') however does not forbid the private ownership of single items or collections legally obtained . It also stipulates (Art 3-5) a financial reward for any objects reported and retained by the state (which the UK law does NOT, it is discretionary). So if we check out the facts he, for some reason, neglects to take into account it is rather Tompa's line of argument here which is "inexplicable".

Tompa's verdict that the Cypriot antiquities legislation is in some way inferior to the relevant UK ActS that correspond to this law more on prejudice than any specific analysis of these laws. He assumes that the system run by these brown-skinned people must be "corrupt" and then postulates that
the archaeological community's unqualified support for import restrictions on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus only helps prop up such a corrupt system.
Though Peter Tompa and the people he represents seem not too keen to differentiate between the two, what archaeologists in fact support is not the restrictions of imports of legally exported Cypriot antiquities, but the import of illegally exported Cypriot antiquities. This raises the question of whether it is the Cypriots or the US antiquities market that is here "corrupt"?

Tompa adds:
Hopefully, the State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and CPAC will take notice when the current Cypriot MOU comes up for renewal.
Yes, let them take notice of what their own antiquity dealers are doing and recommend that the US withdraw from the 1970 UNESCO Convention if its dealers are simply not willing to forgo the import of illegally exported material from the few countries with which the US has such MOUs (and employ lawyers like Tompa to fight to secure that as a "right" by fair means or foul). Let the pirates not trade under a false standard, let them fly their true colours, the Jolly Roger.

Vignette: The true colours of the US antiquities trade represented by Mr Tompa, wants the freedom to trade in illegally exported antiquities.


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