Tuesday 3 July 2018

US Customs Specify What Should be Under Scrutiny at US Borders

US border today
The US Harmonized Tariff Schedule now requires separate reporting of imported archaeological pieces and ethnographic pieces to allow for more accurate reporting of cultural property imports What is interesting, versus the efforts of lobbyists for the US no-questions-asked antiquities trade is the definition (statistical note 1):
"Archaeological pieces" are objects of cultural significance that are at least 250 years old and are of a kind normally discovered as a result of scientific excavation, clandestine or accidental digging or exploration on land or under water. [...]
"Ethnographic pieces", which may also be called "ethnological pieces" are objects that are the product of a tribal or nonindustrial society and are important to the cultural heritage of a people because of their distinctive characteristics, comparative rarity or their contribution to the knowledge of the origins, development or history of that people. See C
Which I guess means these cultural items were taken away from their owners illegally by US border officials, as they fall into neither category:
Give them back
Note the differentiation there, portable antiquities are covered whether they are 'major' or 'minor antiquities', but only in the ethnographic category (so objects that have been curated above-ground) are selected objects with 'distinctive characteristics' or comparatively rare or which make a 'contribution to the knowledge of the origins, development or history of that people'. It is a shame that 'formed part of a group of associated objects' did not form part of that definition too.

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