Friday, 6 June 2014

Two Summaries of Egypt MOU Consultation

Some of the contributors
There are two useful summaries of the public hearing related to the Egypt MOU in Washington. the first is by SAFE's Safecorner: 'Public hearing on Egypt’s request for import restrictions of antiquities into the US', posted on June 5, 2014.
There were approximately 50 attendees in addition to the members of the Committee and Cultural Heritage Center personnel. Of the 11 presenters, eight spoke in support of the MoU, a ninth speaker gave conditional support. The CPAC Chair Patty Gerstenblith began by asking speakers not to read their comments already submitted in writing and to focus their five-minute presentations on the four determinations in question.
The piece contains a recap of the points that were made by the speakers (in order of appearance),first were four US academics, supporting the MOU:
Dr. David O’Connor,
Dr. Laurel Bestock
Dr. Douglas Boin,
Elizabeth Varner (LCCHP),

Then came the dealers and collectors:
Peter Tompa, representing International Association of Professional Numismatists (“IAPN”)
Mr. Wayne Sayles, (plaintively heard to say: "we are not evil people")
Dr. Carmen Arnold-Biucchi, Ancient Coins Curator, Harvard Art Museums rebuffed the coiney pseudo-arguments:
  • supports MoU, coins included
  • coins should not be treated separately from other archaeological material because they are an essential part of almost any excavation
  • coinage only exists in Egypt since the Ptolemaic period, through the Ottoman period
  • the multiple-object argument against inclusion of coins does not hold water, it also applies to ceramics, glass, etc.
  • coins of all types were minted by specific ancient governments; thus valuable to the study of ancient government structure
  • coins are not just made for export as some have claimed…but exchangeable for goods and services and other currencies
  • even small, ugly coins can give us much information
  • to document a coin not a question of law, reputable dealers do document, but duty to document and record provenance
  • not only Custom’s responsibility to catch illegal exports at the border, experts called upon to identify coins. Task difficult, but not insurmountable
  • foreign coins are known to have been present in Egypt in multiple periods
  • without inventory and documentation, museums would not accept donations of disassembled coin collections
Alan Safani, Art Dealer, International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA):

Then the egyptologists:
Dr. Monica Hanna,
Dr. Sarah Parcak,
Dr. Brian Daniels,

There is another fairly full account on the Antiquities Coalition website: 'Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) hearing on Egypt's MoU request for US import restrictions to combat the looting of Egyptian antiquities' posted 6th June 2014.  They also note the isolated position of the coin trade over this.

The Coalition also give a rundown of the speakers. So far we have not heard the reflections of Tompa Sayles nor Safani on the proceedings.

UPDATE 10th June 2014:
Peter Tompa has finally produced his own summary of events: 'CPAC Public Session on Egyptian MOU'. Credit where credit is due, it actually appears to be quite a balanced account.Here we get an idea of who in the CPAC was present, and what questions they asked.

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