Monday 17 January 2022

US Coineys Moaning Again

Shock-horror: " Any Greek coin struck prior to 1830 is now forbidden to be exported, according to the updated U.S.-Greece Memorandum of Understanding" wails hapless coiney churnalist Richard Giedroyć ('Greece Extends Memorandum of Understanding'). Leaving aside the tortured numiscentric syntax, the MOU was extended by the United States of America, as the way they set up the CCPIA, it's a one-sided process of a wannabe global-police superpower. He whines on further, echoing I am sure a certain lobbyist that he tends to quote (actually mentioned lower down his text):
Can you claim something is your cultural patrimony when your country didn’t even exist at the time the artifact or coin was produced? This minor detail isn’t an issue for Greece, which has recently extended its agreement with the United States through a Memorandum of Understanding to cover relics, art, and coins dating from the fourth century A.D. to 1830.
Some mixed up and simplistic thinking there (is he one of Trump's voters?). The cultural property of a territory on a bit of the landsurface and in territorial waters of our planet is protected by the state now exercising authority over that territory. So Stonehenge was not built by inhabitants of any "Kingdom of England" (let alone a UK), yet English Hweritage looks after it. Poland has a history of a thousand years, yet Iron Age sites like Biskupin were not built by inhabitants of any "Kingdom of Poland". Hoards of gold solidi buried in a field near Dresden was not buried by citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany (or even German Democratic Republic or Kingdom of Prussia). What nonsensical argument is this that the coineys are trying to drag up? Is coin collecting as bad for the brain cells as I sometimes suspect?

Giedroyć also mixes "export" and "import". The MOU he is referring to concerns the passage of artefacts from the international market into the USA. In this case, an attempt to restrict them to items documentable as having been exported legally from the source country. What actually is unreasonable about that, keeping potentially illegally exported material off the US market? Isn't there enmough of that already on the US antiquities and numismatic markets? Giedroyć does not explore that aspect.

The 1970 UNESCO Convention, to which the US is a half-hearted party (de facto only explicitly acknowledges one of its 23 articles) has as one of its fundamantal postulates that states in general, and states party in particular have the inalienable right to self-determine what material from their territory comprises its cultural heritage. The USA might exhibit Native American artefacts in "natural history" museums (seen it with my own disgusted eyes in Florida) and fail to control its export by any kind of permit system, but that does not mean that all states will treat certain groups of artefacts and other historical material from their territory with the same disdain.

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