Monday 12 December 2011

Focus on CCPIA: Workable Solutions, or a Misunderstand what the law is about?

A coiney (James Brandon) commenting on the renewal of the restriction of import restrictions of objects to those with documentation (two options) of lawful export of archaeological and ethnographic artefacts from Cyprus restricts his remarks to this comment:
The statistics are there on how too much restriction leads to diminished reporting of finds. By paying no heed to this study, it is clear that more workable solutions could be implemented in Cyprus.
Here we see the utterly damaging effect of pro-PAS propaganda wafting out from the heritage disaster area that is British "policy" on artefact hunting and collecting. Great Britain has a very restrictive export licencing procedure (every archaeological thing dug up has to go through the process) so is that reducing "reporting of finds"? On the contrary, the two have NOTHING to do with each other, the PAS is currently not in any way involved in the export licence awarding procedure in Great Britain. Again, the "reporting of finds" is one aspect of a series of problems, the preservation of archaeological sites and assemblages is another and illicit export of cultural property (what the MOU concerns) is another. So what "workable solution" could be implemented which simultaneously encourages reporting of finds, protects sites from commercial exploitation and prevents illicit exports?

Mr Brandon not only fails to inform the CPAC of the source of his information about this "study" (maybe Raymund Karl's recent paper?) but also what precisely he has in mind that CPAC should encourage Cyprus to try to prevent illegal export of archaeological and ethnographic artefacts. Are ethnographic artefacts (for example icons and church fittings) generally "finds" which need reporting?

It seems to me that a workable solution to avoid the US antiquities market becoming a disreputable laundry for illegally exported artefacts from areas of the world whose cultural heritage is at special danger from "pillage" is for the US to look more carefully at the export papers of artefacts from these regions coming into the US (actually the 1970 UNESCO Convention - of which the US is a state party - stipulates that ANY artefacts coming in without such papers from any other member state are illicit).

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