Saturday, August 20, 2022

Biden Administration Announces New CPAC Members.

 The Biden Administration has made the following announcement:

Cultural Property Advisory Committee
The Cultural Property Advisory Committee reviews requests for import restrictions submitted to the United States by foreign governments, considers proposals to extend existing agreements and emergency actions, carries out ongoing review of current import restrictions, and provides reports of its findings and recommendations to the Department of State.

The Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act established the 11-member presidentially appointed Committee to ensure that the U.S. government receives advice from diverse public interests in cultural property matters. The Committee includes two members who represent the interests of museums; three members who are expert in archaeology, anthropology, ethnology, or related fields; three members who are expert in the international sale of cultural property; and three members who represent the interest of the general public. The Cultural Heritage Center serves as the secretariat for Committee and convenes and facilitates the Committee’s quarterly meetings.

Alexandra Jones, Chair, Cultural Property Advisory Committee
Dr. Alexandra Jones, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Archaeology in the Community, is an education leader focused on community outreach and service. Jones is currently Professor of Practice in History and Archaeology at Goucher College. She worked for PBS’s television show “Time Team America” as the Archaeology Field School Director, where she directed field schools for junior high and high school students at each of the sites for the 2013 season. She obtained dual Bachelor of Arts degrees from Howard University in History and Anthropology in 2001 and a Master of Arts degree in History from Howard University in 2003. She then attended University of California, Berkeley for a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Anthropology with a concentration in Historical Archaeology in 2010. Jones serves on the Board for the Society of Black Archaeologists, the District of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Review Board, the Board of Directors of the St. Croix Archaeological Society, and is an Academic Trustee for the Archaeological Institute of America.

Alex W. Barker, Member, Cultural Property Advisory Committee
Alex W. Barker is a museum anthropologist and archaeologist focusing on issues of cultural heritage, iconography, and the rise of social complexity. A graduate of the Getty Museum Leadership Institute, Barker serves as Director of the Arkansas Archeological Survey, and has previously held leadership positions at the University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology, the Milwaukee Public Museum, and the Dallas Museum of Natural History. He has experience in both domestic and international cultural property issues, served on the national Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Review Committee from 2011-2015, and coordinated an international antiquities documentation project in collaboration with the Capitoline Museum in Rome. He is a peer-elected Expert Member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites International Scientific Committee on Archaeology and Heritage Management and the International Scientific Committee on Earthen Architectural Heritage. He has received national awards for research from the Society for American Archaeology and for service from the Society for American Archaeology and the American Alliance of Museums. Barker is a former President of both the Council for Museum Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association. Barker received a BA from Marquette University, MA from Wichita State University, and PhD from the University of Michigan.

Andrew Lamarche Connors, Member, Cultural Property Advisory Committee
Andrew Connors is currently the Director of the Albuquerque Museum, where he previously served as Curator of Art from 2009 through 2018. Connors’ former roles include Chair of the Visual Arts Department at Albuquerque Academy (2006-2009), Senior Curator at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque (1999-2006), and Associate Curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (1984-1999) where he developed collections and exhibitions on Hispanic, Latino, Native American, and Folk Art. He studied Art History and Architecture at Yale University and did his graduate work in Folklore and American Studies at George Washington University.  He has curated dozens of exhibitions, primarily in the areas of United States Latino Art, Colonial Art from Puerto Rico, Contemporary Art, and Graffiti. He recently completed an exhibition and book on the history of jewelry in New Mexico from prehistory to the present, the first exhibition in a series of medium-focused historical survey exhibitions on New Mexican art that will include ceramics and textiles. As a lecturer, guest teacher, and consultant, he has worked with numerous organizations including the National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Office of Folklife Programs, Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Chicano Studies Department at the University of California Los Angeles, Getty Center for Education in the Arts, and the Royal Government of Bhutan.

Michael Findlay, Member, Cultural Property Advisory Committee
Michael Findlay is a Director of Acquavella Galleries which specializes in Impressionist, Modern, and Post-War Contemporary Art and presents major exhibitions of artists such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, James Rosenquist, Lucian Freud, and Wayne Thiebaud. Findlay directed one of the first galleries in SoHo in Manhattan in the 1960s, which pioneered the work of artists like John Baldessari, Hannah Wilke, and Sean Scully and secured portrait commissions for Andy Warhol. He was a Senior Director at Christie’s auction house and sat on the Board of Directors from 1984 to 2000. He has served on the Art Advisory Panel for the Internal Revenue Service since 2001, serves on the Board of the New York Foundation for the Arts and the British Schools and Universities Foundation, and is on the Advisory Council of the Appraisers Association of America. Findlay frequently lectures at museums and universities in the U.S. and overseas. He has published poetry and essays in journals, periodicals, and exhibition catalogues, as well as two best-selling books, Seeing Slowly—Looking at Modern Art and The Value of Art. He is married to the contemporary quilt artist Victoria Findlay Wolfe and has two children.

Cynthia Denise Herbert, Member, Cultural Property Advisory Committee
Cynthia D. Herbert, AAA, President of Appretium Appraisal Services LLC, is a Certified Member and past President of the Board of the Appraisers Association of America. She has appraised an extensive range of fine and decorative art, antiques, and residential contents/personal property. Herbert is an instructor at the Appraisal Institute of America and the Appraisers Association of America. Additionally, through The Appraisal Foundation, she is an AQB Certified USPAP Instructor (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice). Herbert graduated with a BA from Georgetown University and an MA from New York University.

Nii Otokunor Quarcoopome, Member, Cultural Property Advisory Committee
Nii Quarcoopome is the curator of African art and department head of Africa, Oceania, and Indigenous Americas at the Detroit Institute of Arts. He received his doctorate in African art history in 1993 from the University of California, Los Angeles. After years of college teaching, he entered the museum field in 2000, beginning at Newark Museum before joining Detroit Institute of Arts in 2002. Between 2012 and 2016, Quarcoopome’s concurrent appointment at the Nelson-Atkins Museum and the Detroit Institute of Arts made him the first shared curator in American history. His exhibition, “Through African Eyes: The European in African Art, 1500-Present,” earned a National Endowment of the Humanities implementation grant and the American Association of Museums’ recognition for excellence. His academic record boasts several prestigious postdoctoral fellowships, including the Fulbright and J. Paul Getty.

Miriam T. Stark, Member, Cultural Property Advisory Committee
Dr. Miriam Stark, an anthropological archeologist, is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and has worked in Cambodia since 1996. With field experience in North America, the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia, Stark has published more than 100 articles and chapters on Southeast Asian and North American archaeology. A specialist in ancient ceramics, salient themes in her research include urbanization, ceramic production and distribution, and power relations in premodern Cambodia. Stark’s Cambodian archaeological research program integrates research with capacity-building in collaboration with Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and its various units. She has worked with nearly 100 Cambodian students, interns, and archaeological professionals since launching her first field-based project in the country, and continues to mentor early career archaeologists in Cambodia.  Stark became the Director for the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies in 2018 and is currently a Fulbright Senior Specialist and an Honorary Research Associate with the University of Sydney. Stark earned her doctorate in Anthropological Archaeology at the University of Arizona and held a postdoctoral fellowship in materials analysis at the Smithsonian. She has served as a board member for the Society for American Archaeology and currently serves on 13 editorial boards for archaeology and Southeast Asia-focused journals.

William A. K. Titelman, Member, Cultural Property Advisory Committee
William Titelman has had a highly varied career, while maintaining a lifelong passion for art, history, archeology, anthropology, and antiquities. He received his J.D. from The Dickinson School of Law over a decade after his B.A. in philosophy and art history from Washington and Jefferson College and Brown University. In between degrees, he worked in senior executive capacities in Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp’s Administration and served as a civilian volunteer in Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Titelman has always championed the rights of injured victims, consumers, workers, and shareholders. He served for a decade as Legislative Counsel to the PA Trial Lawyers Association, never losing a legislative battle. Titelman joined a business and commercial law firm, starting its Harrisburg office and its government affairs, legislative, and administrative law practices. He has spearheaded numerous legislative accomplishments, including the enactment of Pennsylvania’s Business Corporation Law, brownfields legislation, electric utility deregulation, and the state’s seatbelt law. He led a national campaign opposing a notorious anti-takeover bill. Titelman was a principal in developing the Commonwealth Riverfront Center in Harrisburg, served as Executive Vice President at one of the nation’s largest drugstore chains, and established the public pension fund and labor union practice for a plaintiffs securities litigation firm. He founded Pennsylvanians for Gun Control to support passage of the Brady Bill, was a founding board member of the Israel Policy Forum, and has served on numerous non-profit boards.

A Pennsylvanian, Titelman was born in Altoona, grew up in Pittsburgh, lived in Harrisburg for 30 years, then moved to Washington, DC, before retiring in Florida. During the last nine years he has also spent much of his time living and learning in Greece.

For the White House Press release, see 

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/19/president-biden-announces-key-appointments-to-boards-and-commissions-5/

Who do these new members replace?  While not clear from the release, it appears the following current members will no longer serve on the committee:

Public: Stephen Passentino (former Chair)

Archaeology/Anthropology: Ricardo St. Hilaire;  Joan Connelly; and Rachael Fulton Brown

Museums:  Karol Wight 

International Sale of Cultural Property:  Mark Hendrick and David Tamasi.


Thursday, July 28, 2022

Summary of July 26, 2022, Cultural Property Advisory Committee Meeting to Discuss Proposed MOU Renewals with Belize and Libya

         On July 26, 2022, the US Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) met to consider proposed renewals of MOUs with Belize and Libya.  CPAC is comprised of the following members: (1) Stefan Passantino (Chairman- Public); (2) Steven Bledsoe (Public); (3) Karol Wight (Museums); (4) J.D. Demming (Public); (5) Ricardo St. Hilaire (Archaeology); (6) Joan Connelly (Archaeology); Rachael Fulton Brown (Archaeology); (7) Anthony Wisniewski (Collector-Sale of International Cultural Property); (8) Mark Hendricks (Sale of International Cultural Property); and (9) David Tamasi (International Sale of Cultural Property).  Because CPAC was meeting in person after a long hiatus due to the pandemic, it was unfortunately impossible to determine if all members were present. 

            Michelle Prior, a program officer for the Cultural Heritage Center, was also present to run the Zoom presentation.   Again, other Cultural Heritage Center staff may have been in the room, but it was impossible to tell given the Zoom image quality. 

                Chairman Passantino welcomed the speakers.  He acknowledged “familiar faces” and commented there were new speakers for this session.  He indicated that each speaker would be given 5 minutes for their presentation.  He asked Committee members to hold questions to the end.  He further indicated that speakers would be grouped, with those discussing Belize alone or Belize and Libya speaking first.

                Dr. Eleanor King (Howard University) spoke on her own behalf as well as for the Society for American Archaeology.  Belize meets all the criteria for a renewal.  Its cultural heritage is still in danger due to looting which is exacerbated by its rugged terrain and porous borders.  Belize does take self-help measures in the form of awareness campaigns against looting, posters warning about purchasing looted objects, and workshops devoted to the subject.  Import restrictions are not only the best available method to prevent importation of stolen objects, but they are also the only real ones available. Given the porous nature of Belize’s borders and the country’s restricted resources, it would be impossible to seal all exit points from the country.  Finally, there are extensive collaborative efforts between US and Belizean archaeologists.

                Dr. King’s written comments can be found here: 

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0015-0037

                Dr. Brian Daniels (Smithsonian and University of Pennsylvania) spoke on behalf of the Archaeological Institute of America (“AIA”).  Dr. Daniels indicated that the AIA’s membership comprised of approximately 200,000 professional archaeologists, corresponding members, students, and enthusiasts.  Both Belize and Libya have met all the necessary criteria for renewal.  Both Libya and Belize still suffer from looting.  Both have dedicated archaeological departments. Although the archaeological departments in Libya must answer to different governments, they operate with the same common purpose.  Dr. Daniels indicates ASOR will provide further information on Libya.  There are a host of collaborative projects with Belize.  Before the 2011 Revolution, the AIA ran tours to Libya. The AIA also ran tours to Belize before Covid.

                The AIA’s written comments on Belize can be found here:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0015-0049

                The AIA’s written comments on Libya can be found here:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0015-0050

                Stephen Knerly (Hahn Loeser) spoke on behalf of the Association of Art Museum Directors (“AAMD”).  He first addressed Libya.  He first questioned if Jewish artifacts can be considered Libyan state property now because antiques held prior to 1968 were not state property under Libyan law.   He noted there are a host of issues related to the scope of the designated list if CPAC decides to recommend a renewal of the MOU with Libya.  With regard to the MOU with Belize, he criticized the open-ended nature of the designated list of archaeological material, effectively being extended an extra five years with every renewal.  He also criticized the Form Article II that has been put in place in more recent agreements.  These should be tailored to the individual countries. 

                The AAMD’s written comments on Libya and Belize may be found here:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0015-0054   

                Peter Tompa (Peter Tompa Law) spoke on behalf of the International Association of Professional Numismatists (“IAPN”).  His comments focused on Libya.  ASOR received $800,000 in State Department grants that paid for work that was then used to justify renewing this MOU.  However, on a closer look, the report ASOR submitted actually demonstrates that Libya has not taken adequate self-help measures to justify a renewal.  He also noted that one cannot assume most coins on the designated list are only found in Libya, or even that they “circulated primarily” there, which is the State Department’s own standard.  The State Department should at least be held to its own standard and the coin types that do not meet it should be delisted.  Tompa  finally indicated we should all look forward to the day Libya is at peace and the $800,000 given to ASOR to help justify a renewed MOU with Libya can instead be used to fund a Portable Antiquities Scheme in Libya. 

                Peter Tompa’s complete oral comments can be found here:

http://culturalpropertyobserver.blogspot.com/2022/07/cpac-should-focus-on-facts-not-false.html

                His personal written comments can be found here:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0015-0012

                IAPN’s written comments on Libya may be found here:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0015-0018

                IAPN’s written comments on Belize may be found here:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0015-0015

                Randolph Myers spoke on behalf of the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (“ACCG”).  He first noted that the 28-day notice provided for public comment, while far better than the 5 days allowed for comment on proposed emergency import restrictions for Afghanistan, still falls far short of the 60 days public notice period under the Administrative Procedure Act.  He also noted the injustice of import restrictions on Jewish cultural artifacts. He indicated that hoard evidence proved that most types of coins on the current designated list are found in far greater frequency outside of Libya than they are found inside Libya.  This is particularly true for the famous type with the Silphium plant on the reverse which was made to pay mercenaries from Crete.  He further indicated that the MOU has not been effective with only one Immigration and Customs Enforcement seizure of an artifact that left Libya at least 10 years prior to the MOU. 

                The ACCG’s written comments may be found here: 

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0015-0002

                Kate FitzGibbon spoke on behalf of the Committee for Cultural Policy (“CCP”) and the Global Heritage Alliance (“GHA”).  She focused on Libya.  One cannot conflate Libya and Belize.  There is no functioning government in Libya.  Reports from British archaeologists do not paint the same picture as in the ASOR report.  There is poor stewardship of Libya’s cultural heritage.  The overbroad designated list encompasses 13,000 years of Libyan history.  Ambiguities in that list recognize Libya as the de-facto custodian of the cultural heritage of its displaced Jewish population.  The MOU should be terminated.  Alternatively, CPAC should only recommend new emergency restrictions on limited numbers of cultural goods consistent with the statute. 

                The CCP’s and GHA’s written comments about Libya can be found here:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0015-0041

                The CCP’s and GHA’s written comments about Belize can be found here:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0015-0003

                Gina Waldman spoke on her own behalf as well as Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (“JIMENA”).  She was born in Tripoli, from which she and her family were brutally expelled.  The driver of the bus meant to take her out of the country instead set it afire with her and her family in it.  She was saved by British Christians and eventually settled in California.  MOUs are supposed to stop looted property, but here the Libyan government was the looter.  Libya took all the Jewish community’s religious artifacts, and all its private and communal property.  Unless the current MOU is re-written to explicitly exclude Jewish and Christian property, the MOU will legitimize Libya’s confiscations of minority cultural heritage and property.  There was a carve out done in the MOU with Morocco and the same should be done here.  Libya has desecrated the synagogue where Ms. Waldman worshiped by turning it into an Islamic Center.  She has presented CPAC with a video showing this desecration.  The person who took the video was arrested and was sentenced to 8 months in a Libyan prison.  Libyan authorities have robbed the Jewish community, desecrated its synagogues, and even erected skyscrapers over its cemeteries.  Libya cannot be considered a custodian of Jewish cultural heritage.

                JIMENA’s written comments can be found here:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0015-0048

                Raphael Luzon was born in Benghazi.  This MOU will just justify the Libyan Government’s taking of Jewish property.  CPAC should follow the Moroccan example and recommend an exemption for Jewish cultural heritage.  There needs to be a carve-out for Jewish religious articles. Libya has robbed its Jewish citizens.  He understands Libyan Jewish cultural heritage was carted up and put in a storeroom.  He does not know what happened to it.  A Synagogue he attended has now been converted into a Coptic Church. 

                David Gerbi is a doctor in psychology and the President of “ASTREL,” an organization which represents the Jews of Libya in exile.  He now lives in Israel and appeared on zoom from a museum in Israel devoted to commemorating Libya’s Jewish diaspora.  In 1967, when he was 12 years of age, he spent days hiding with his family from a rampaging mob that was looting and destroying Jewish homes and businesses.  In 2002, Ghaddafi invited him to Libya to visit his aunt, the last Libyan Jew.  Ghaddafi wanted his help in normalizing relations with the United States.  He was fearful he would suffer the same fate as Saddam Hussein.  Mr. Gerbi worked with Congressman Tom Lantos on this issue and after relations with the U.S. were normalized Qaddafi invited him to Libya in 2007 to see Jewish sites and restore DAR BISHI Synagogue.  However, during his trip he was arrested and the money he raised to restore the Synagogue was stolen.  He was deported to Malta without any money.   After he got back to Rome, there was an assassination attempt and he moved to Israel.  In 2009, Qaddafi reconciled with him and again invited him home to restore the Synagogue, but this never happened.  After the 2011 Revolution, he was invited back to serve in the government, but on his arrival, he was threatened with death and fled again with the help of the Italian Government.  He recently was invited back to Tripoli to restore Synagogues but was again threatened with death and was forced to leave again. 

                Rabbi Eric Fusfield spoke on behalf of B’nai B’rith International.  B’nai B’rith is our nation’s oldest and best-known Jewish advocacy and social service organization, promoting the rights and concerns of the Jewish community on a wide range of issues.  No issue is of greater importance to the Jewish community than the rights of the nearly one million Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.  Nowhere did this Jewish presence end more tragically than in Libya, where Jews had lived since the 4th Century B.C.E. and numbered as many as 40,000 in the early 1900s but lost their entire population as a result of anti-Semitic pogroms and immigration to Israel.  The cultural patrimony of the Libyan Jewish diaspora is gravely threatened by the absence of guarantees to custody of materials that are rightfully theirs. The Jewish community wrote a letter in December 2018 requesting the exclusion of Jewish ritual items from the current Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Libya. However, the previous administration’s refusal to acknowledge the letter amounted to a de facto U.S. recognition of Libya’s confiscation of Jewish properties in 1958 and 1969 and to the persecution Libyan Jewry suffered at the hands of the regime.  This MOU legitimizes the confiscation of Jewish property seized by Libya’s government when Jews were forced from the country.  B’nai B’rith strongly urges the Committee to include a derogation, or carve-out, for Jewish personal and communal property should this MOU be renewed. We have seen a precedent for this in the Morocco MOU, which clearly and explicitly excluded Jewish property from its scope. To do less would be nothing short of a betrayal of American values.

                B’nai B’rith’s written comments can be found here:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0015-0030

                 Panina Meghnagi is from the Libyan diaspora.  She had to flee her home in Tripoli with one suitcase.  Her family had to leave everything behind.  They were stripped searched on leaving the country.  Jews lived in Libya for 2,000 years before being driven out.  Their cultural heritage has been destroyed, buried under Autostradas and Skyscrapers.   There were 40,000 Jews living in Libya in the 1940’s.  Pogroms took place in the 1950s.  During the 1960’s most Jews and Christians fled the country.  She implored the Committee to “love us” and do not renew this MOU.  Morocco is a good example of a country that preserves its Jewish heritage. 

                Dr. Andrew Vaughn is the Executive Director of the American Society of Overseas Research (“ASOR”) and as Co-Director of ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives (“ASOR CHI”).  Dr. Vaughn participated in meetings with Libyan cultural heritage officials in Tunisia.  He was impressed with their motivation to work cooperatively to protect Libya’s cultural assets.  Government actors and supporting militias are not involved in the antiquities trade which helps with enforcement.  There have been instances where the public has returned chance finds to members of the Department of Antiquities.  He has been working with Libya’s Department of Antiquities (“DOA”) towards creating temporary exhibitions in the US of material seized under the MOU. The DOA looks on ASOR as partners.  Preservation efforts include that of materials of minority populations as a counter to extremism.  Dr. Vaughn polled Libyan cultural heritage officials who indicated that ancient coins are the most looted item.  (Note- they are also one of the most common ancient artifacts, see Tompa individual comments).

                Dr. Vaughn’s written comments on behalf of ASOR can be found here:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0015-0051

                Will Raynolds is the co-director of ASOR-Cultural Heritage Initiative. Despite the division of the DOA under two separate governments, the separate entities work well together.  ASOR has intensive collaborations with both DOAs and smaller, local groups.  Since the signing of the MOU, there have been sincere efforts to protect Libya’s cultural heritage.  Raynolds was particularly heartened by voluntary returns of objects by Libyan citizens. 

                Raynold’s written comments on behalf of ASOR can be found here:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0015-0038

                As more than an hour had already been devoted to public comment, Chairman Passantino asked questions from members of the Committee to be kept short. 

                An unidentified CPAC member indicated that he believed speakers from the Jewish Diaspora had made a compelling case for exempting Jewish artifacts from any new import restrictions.  He asked Dr. Vaughn about his views on the subject.  Dr. Vaughn does not answer the question, and instead indicates he is not familiar with the legal aspects of such a decision. 

                Anthony Wisniewski asked Stephen Knerly if there were credible enforcement efforts taking place in Libya.  He indicated that there are no such efforts and that is but one piece of Libya’s failure to undertake self-help measures. 

                Anthony Wisniewski pointed Kate FitzGibbon to page 18 of her submission where she discussed the State Department’s application of a “circulated primarily” standard as a trigger for import restrictions on coins.  Ms. FitzGibbon confirmed that the standard contradicts the governing statute’s limitation of import restrictions to coins “first discovered within, and subject to export control” by Libya.

                She also noted that with two DOAs in Libya there is no effective enforcement of cultural heritage laws.

                Anthony Wisniewski pointed Peter Tompa to page 7 of IAPN’s submission which discussed the current designated list for Libya.  He asked if there were any Roman Imperial coins struck in Libya.  Mr. Tompa indicated that such coins were not struck in Libya and as stated in a footnote only 0.18 % of all Roman Imperial coin hoards with Italian mint coins are found in Libya.  Anthony Wisniewski also asked about Greek Coins.  Mr. Tompa agreed with Mr. Wisniewski that the Greek designated list excludes large denomination stater and tetradrachm coins.  Mr. Tompa stated that hoard evidence indicates that Greek silver and gold coins from Libyan mints did not “circulate primarily” there because the vast majority are found outside Libya.  This includes high denomination tetradrachm coins from Cyrene and Barce as well as the stater size coins with the silphium plant on the reverse mostly found in Crete as described in Randolph Myer’s testimony.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

CPAC SHOULD FOCUS ON FACTS NOT FALSE NARRATIVES

Here is what I said at yesterday's CPAC meeting to discuss proposed renewals with Belize and Libya.  My comments related solely to Libya.  I hope to upload a summary of what happened in the near future. 

        Thank you for letting me speak on behalf of the micro and small businesses of the numismatic trade.  CPAC should focus on facts not false narratives based on a report from ASOR, which received $800,000 in State Department grants for its work in Libya.

          ASOR’s report will be used to justify extending this MOU to quote “save” Libyan cultural heritage.  However, after reading it, one can only conclude that Libya has failed to take necessary self-help measures. Libya does not enforce its own confiscatory Ghaddafi era laws.   ASOR only documents five seizures of looted antiquities in Libya since 2017 when import restrictions were first promulgated.  Thefts from museums after the 2011 Revolution are detailed, but poor documentation makes recovery far more difficult.  Anything recovered could be returned as “stolen property” anyway, without an MOU.          

          Given the reality on the ground, can CPAC in good conscience recommend further import restrictions on coins?  It is impossible to assume most coins on the designated list were found in Libya.  The current designated list includes many Imperial coin types that circulated regionally or internationally.   Other Greek silver and gold coins did not even “circulate primarily” in Libya, the State Department’s own standard.  Recently, IAPN demonstrated that coins of Alexander the Great should be delisted for Cyprus because they did not meet this criteria.   However, the State Department ignored this research and instead expanded the current Cypriot list even further!  That raises the question, is the State Department’s own standard “just for show?”

          Libya is a complete mess with a bloody gun battle between rival factions in Tripoli just last week. Hopefully, one day Libya will be at peace and $800,000 can be used to fund a Portable Antiquities Scheme rather than trying to justify suppressing coin collecting further.  US collectors are not at fault for Libya’s problems and should not suffer further damage in search of an illusory solution. Thank you. 


Sunday, July 17, 2022

Cypriot Designated List Expanded

In the Federal Register dated July 18, 2022, the Cypriot designated list was amended to add Byzantine, Medieval, Frankish, Lusignan, Venetian, and Ottoman con types that “circulated primarily” in Cyprus.  

The revised designated list (effective on July 14, 2022) now reads as follows:

. Coins of Cypriot Types.

Coins of Cypriot types made of gold,
silver, and bronze including but not
limited to:

a. Issues of the ancient kingdoms of
Amathus, Kition, Kourion, Idalion,
Lapethos, Marion, Paphos, Soli, and
Salamis dating from the end of the 6th
century B.C. to 332 B.C.

b. Issues of the Hellenistic period,
such as those of Paphos, Salamis, and
Kition from 332 B.C. to c. 30 B.C.

c. Provincial and local issues of the
Roman period from c. 30 B.C. to A.D.
235. Often these have a bust or head on
one side and the image of a temple (the
Temple of Aphrodite at Palaipaphos) or
statue (statue of Zeus Salaminios) on the
other.

d. Byzantine, Medieval Frankish,
Lusignan, Venetian, and Ottoman types
that circulated primarily in Cyprus,
ranging in date from A.D. 235 to 1770.
Coins were made in copper, bronze,
silver, and gold. Examples are generally
round, have writing, and show imagery
of animals, buildings, symbols, or royal
or imperial figures.

 See https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/07/18/2022-15398/extension-and-amendment-of-import-restrictions-on-archaeological-and-ethnological-material-from

The "circulated primarily" standard does not comport with the plain language of the Cultural Property Implementation Act , 19 USC Section 2601.  See Ancient Coin Collectors Guild v. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 801 F. Supp. 2d 383, 407 n. 25 (D. Md. 2011) (“Congress only authorized the imposition of import restrictions on objects that were ‘first discovered within, and [are] subject to the export control by the State Party.”). 

 Additionally, without being more specific, this “circulated primarily” phraseology also raises “fair notice” questions under 19 USC Section 2604.  That provision requires the designated list be “sufficiently specific and precise”  so that the import restrictions only apply to items covered by the agreement, and that fair notice is given to importers. 

 The other issue here is that at the April 26, 2022, CPAC meeting  to discuss the renewal, IAPN presented substantial evidence that even under this “circulated primarily” standard, all Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic gold (AV) coins of Cyprus should be delisted along with all silver (AR) coins of Alexander III (“the Great”), Philip III Arrchidaelus, and Demetrius I Poliorcetes.  See IAPN’s supplemental correspondence, dated Jan. 17, 2022, available at

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2021-0037-0015

This raises the question whether the “circulated primarily” standard is just a bureaucratic justification for the State Department's unpopular imposition of import restrictions on coins rather than a real standard the bureaucracy can be expected to hold itself to when promulgating regulations.  

Monday, June 13, 2022

CPAC to Consider Libya and Belize Renewals

                 The State Department Cultural Heritage Center website has provided advance notice that the Cultural Property Advisory Committee will meet to consider renewals of current MOUs with Libya and Belize.  See https://eca.state.gov/cultural-property-advisory-committee-meeting-july-26-27-2022

                The public may provide written comment in advance of the meeting and/or register to speak in the virtual open session scheduled for July 26, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. EDT.  Both written comments and requests to speak at the open session will be due July 19th. 

                Written comments are to be posted on regulations.gov.  An upcoming Federal Register notice should provide details. 

                The Libyan renewal should be controversial for several reasons.  The MOU was originally rushed through after allowing only 5 days for public comment.  At the time, Libya was a failed State with two competing governments propped up by foreign interests.  Subsequently, without seeking input from CPAC, the State Department morphed “emergency import restrictions” into a MOU with the faction headquartered in Tripoli.  Today, Libya remains a failed state where the political stalemate often erupts into open combat.  Each side is well armed with the help of their authoritarian foreign sponsors.  The Tripoli faction is propped up by Turkey with the help of Syrian mercenaries.  In contrast, the Benghazi faction is propped up by Egypt and Russia with Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group providing extra muscle.  The place is so dangerous that no US Embassy has operated there since the ambassador was murdered by terrorists.  Does anyone really believe that artifacts repatriated under this MOU will be safe in such an environment?

                These concerns about the safety of these artifacts are exacerbated because the designated list is so all encompassing.  It covers archaeological material from 12,000 B.C. to 1750 A.D. and Ottoman era ethnological material from 1551 A.D. through 1911 A.D.

                This designated list raises issues of concern to Jewish exile groups and coin collectors.  Jewish groups are concerned that the MOU with Libya recognizes the rights of that government to the cultural heritage of the country’s displaced Jewish minority.  While specific references to Jewish cultural heritage were removed from revised import restrictions associated with the MOU, such material is still implicitly covered because there is no specific exemption as was the case with Morocco. 

                The restrictions on coins are grossly overbroad.  See https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/07/09/2018-14637/import-restrictions-imposed-on-archaeological-and-ethnological-material-from-libya  In particular, the restrictions empower U.S. Customs to seize Greek silver and gold coins, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman coins imported from legitimate markets in Europe on the assumption that they are “Libyan” even though such coins circulated regionally and internationally and not “exclusively” or even “primarily” in Libya. 

                By contrast, the MOU with Belize, a Central American Democracy, is much less controversial.  The import restrictions are also broad, applying to a wide variety of archeological material ranging in date from approximately 9000 B.C. to at least 250 years old, including, but not limited to, objects comprised of ceramic, stone, metal, shell, bone, glass, and wood.  The issue there will be whether there will be any effort to expand current import restrictions to ethnographic artifacts or coins. 

Update (7/18/22):  The Regulations.gov link from which to comment is now live.  It may be found  here:  https://www.regulations.gov/document/DOS-2022-0015-0001  For a direct link to the comment page, see https://www.regulations.gov/commenton/DOS-2022-0015-0001

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Summary of April 26, 2022, Cultural Property Advisory Committee Meeting to Discuss Proposed MOU with Islamic Republic of Pakistan

                 On April 26, 2022, the US Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) met to consider a proposed MOU with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.  The following members were present: (1) Stefan Passantino (Chairman- Public); (2) Steven Bledsoe (Public); (3) Karol Wight (Museums); (4) J.D. Demming (Public); (5) Ricardo St. Hilaire (Archaeology); (6) Joan Connelly (Archaeology); Rachael Fulton Brown (Archaeology); (7) Anthony Wisniewski (Collector-Sale of International Cultural Property); (8) Mark Hendricks (Sale of International Cultural Property); and (9) David Tamasi (International Sale of Cultural Property).  Allison Davis, CPAC’s State Department Executive Director, and Michele Prior, also of ECA, were also present.

                Chairman Passantino welcomed the speakers.  He indicated that the Committee had read all the comments which he found helpful and useful.   As there were only four speakers, while a five-minute limit would be observed, there would be time left over for questions. 

                The following speakers addressed the Committee: (1) Dr. Brian Daniels (Archaeological Institute of America); (2) Randy Myers (Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG); (3) Peter Tompa (Peter Tompa Law representing the International Association of Professional Numismatists (IAPN)); and (4) Kate FitzGibbon (Committee for Cultural Policy and Global Heritage Alliance).

                Dr. Brian Daniels (BD) indicated there was plenty of evidence of site looting, particularly of Gandharan material.  This was most recently demonstrated by the NY DA’s recent repatriation of Gandharan sculpture.  BD indicated that Pakistan met all the criteria for a MOU.  There are antiquities laws on the books which are now enforced at a regional level.  U.S.-Pakistani archaeological collaborations have taken place at Harappa in Punjab Province, Pakistan.  Pakistani scholars have expressed an interest in supplying loans to US museums. 

                The AIA’s written comments can be found here:  https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0008-0036

                Randy Myers (RM) focused on two procedural objections and one substantive objection.  He indicates that the notice period of fourteen days is simply too short to elicit much informed comment.  He also indicates that the notice was procedurally deficient because there was little justification provided for the apparent inclusion of coins in this request.  He stated that as a retired U.S. Government attorney who worked on administrative matters, he believed that the notice of this hearing provided to the public to comment was deficient.  Substantively, RM focused on one issue related less drastic measures to be considered before import restrictions may be imposed.  He indicated that Pakistan should consider a program akin to the Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure Act as an alternative to import restrictions on coins.

                The ACCG’s written comments can be found here:  https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0008-0007

                Peter Tompa (PT) focused on three major points.  First, how can Customs assume a given coin was “first discovered within” and “subject to” Pakistani export control given the overlap in find spots in  Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh?  Second, why restrict coins at all given the existence of a large internal market in Pakistan itself?  The rationale for import restrictions is that they will dampen market demand and hence decrease the incentive for looting, but US import restrictions would only have a negligible impact on demand because the primary market for Pakistani coins appears to be within Pakistan itself.  Finally, even if coins are restricted, CPAC should condition any import restrictions on coins on the provision the availability of easily obtainable export certificates. 

                The IAPN’s written comments can be found here:  https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0008-0010

                Kate FitzGibbon (KFG) starts her presentation discussing a screen shot posted on Twitter from 2020 showing construction workers smashing a large Gandharan Buddhist statue with sledgehammers in the city of Mardan, Pakistan.  She goes on to describe poor stewardship of Pakistan’s cultural heritage that goes back at least to the 1970s. She notes that Pakistan has pawned off caring for cultural heritage to localities and that a scant $300,000 is spent annually on archaeology, which mostly goes to salaries of the cultural heritage bureaucracy.  She suggests that lack of interest, lack of education and discomfort about teaching pre-Islamic history in schools are major culprits. However, the main problem is top to bottom corruption in Pakistani society.  She urges that the State Department provide grants and educational help to try to build a cultural infrastructure that will enable basic protections inside Pakistan. She indicates this will be far more effective in safeguarding heritage than an MOU that will have no domestic effect inside Pakistan, and no legal justification under US law.

                The CCPs and GHAs written submission can be found here: https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0008-0037  

                Chairman Passantino then allowed CPAC members a brief time for questions.

                Anthony Wisniewski asks KFG about open sales of cultural heritage in Pakistan.  She noted that coins are widely sold at the bazar in Peshawar.  She also indicates that items like old copper pots are often repurposed, noting that a pot she once owned while she lived in Pakistan showed up as a prop on a Pakistani TV program.  She also indicated that beautiful old wooden architectural carvings are shipped out of Pakistan by the container load.  The use of modern air conditioning has prompted homeowners to strip wood decorations out of their homes because it does not react well to an air-conditioned environment.  KFG does not believe a MOU will have any positive impact on the preservation of cultural heritage because of the endemic corruption in Pakistan. 

                Rachael Fulton Brown asks KFG if she believes import restrictions limited to specific period like the Hellenistic and Gandharan period could be effective.  KFG did not believe so because of the endemic corruption.  She also notes in passing that the material seized by the NY DA left Pakistan at least ten years ago and much of it appeared to be fake. 

                Ricardo St. Hilaire asks BD if he agrees with KFG’s characterizations of an internal market in Pakistan.  He indicates that while such a market is tolerated, that does not mean that it legal or that such material would be allowed to be exported. BD believes that a MOU would function as a loadstar to encourage Pakistani officials to crack down on corruption and the illicit trade. 

                Karol Wight asks BD to comment on museum loans in the absence of an AAMD (Association of Art Museum Directors) representative speaking.  BD indicates there has been efforts to secure loans.  He suggests that the visa problems Pakistani couriers had transporting an exhibit to the Asia Society may have made Pakistan gun shy.  He believes that a MOU could smooth over such issues.

                Mark Hendricks asks BD whether he believes that the existence of a large internal market in Pakistan will limit the impact of a MOU on looting. BD believes that a MOU will help encourage Pakistani officials to crack down on illegal activity and prohibit illicit exports.

                Anthony Wisniewski asks BD if items made in quantity can have cultural significance.  BD answers they can because studying groups of objects can tell us significant things about ancient cultures.  He gives the example of the forensic examination of the metallurgy of a collection of bronze ingots.

                Anthony Wisniewski asks PT whether a coin made outside of Pakistan could be claimed as Pakistani under the CPIA.  PT indicated this would require Pakistan to demonstrate with scholarly evidence that the coin type was only found in Pakistan or show that a particular coin actually came from there.  He also indicated that it would be difficult to show that such a coin had cultural significance to Pakistan.  PT believes that BD has confused archaeological interest with cultural significance, which requires an object to have importance to a given culture.  He indicated that it would be difficult for Pakistan to show that a coin made outside of Pakistan had cultural significance to Pakistan.             

                Chairman Passantino then thanked the speakers and CPAC went into a recess before reconvening in a closed session. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

CPAC to Consider New MOU with Pakistan

The State Department has announced that the Cultural Property Advisory Committee will meet on April 26-27 to consider a request for the United States to enter into a cultural property MOU with the Islamic Republic of  Pakistan.  According to the Federal Register Notice, public comments and requests to speak are due no later than April 19, 2022 for the public session which will take place from 2:00-3:00 PM on April 26, 2022.  

The Cultural Heritage Center's website indicates the exceptional breadth of the Pakistani request.  That request covers the lower Paleolithic period through the first half of the 20th century:

The Government of Pakistan seeks import restrictions on archaeological and ethnological material from the Lower Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Historic Pre-Muslim Period, Early Muslim Period, Mughal, Sikh, and Colonial periods through the creation of Pakistan.  Requested archaeological material includes, but is not limited to, stone; ceramics; metal objects including coins; stucco/plaster; glassware; bone, ivory, shell, and horn; manuscripts, paintings, proclamations, deeds, books, and documents; textiles of silk, wool, leather; and wood, dating from the lower Paleolithic (2 million years before present) through the first half of the twentieth century A.D. Requested ethnological material includes, but is not limited to stone; ceramics; metal objects including coins; stucco/plaster; glassware; bone, ivory, shell, and horn; manuscripts, paintings, proclamations, deeds, books, and documents; textiles of silk, wool, leather, and wood objects both architectural and moveable objects; and wooden objects dating from the Pre-Muslim Historic period through the first half of the twentieth century A.D.

The request should raise a number of important general questions.  First, are all the listed archaeological objects not only of "archaeological interest" but of "cultural significance," and do they meet the governing statute's 250 year threshold? Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, 19 USC Section 2601 (C) (i) (I)(II). Second, are all the listed ethnological objects really the products of "tribal or nonindustrial society" "that are important to the cultural heritage of a people because of its distinctive characteristics, comparative rarity, or its contributions to the knowledge origins, development or history of that people?"  19 USC Section 2601 (C) (ii) (I)(II).

Third, has Pakistan taken "measures consistent with the [1970 UNESCO] Convention to protect its cultural patrimony" under 19 USC Section 2602 (a) (1) (B) when concerns have been raised about Pakistan's notoriously poor stewardship of its own cultural heritage, including not only neglect but theft and outright disrespect for minority cultural heritage.

Finally, does the State Department intend to recognize the Islamic Republic's rights to ownership and/or control of the cultural heritage of  today's small Hindu, Christian and Jewish communities?  These groups have suffered from severe discrimination, and such recognition would raise the same concerns as has been expressed with other controversial MOUs with authoritarian Middle Eastern countries.  There also is the issue of ancient Buddhist statuary which has not only suffered neglect and disrespect as noted above, but outright destruction from local iconoclasts.  

Coins also raise a number of  specific issues.  First, there appears to be a substantial overlap in the types of Indo-Greek, Kushan, Indo-Sassanian, Turkish and later Islamic coins found in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.  Under the circumstances, how can the State Department conclude that particular coins were "first discovered within and [are] subject to export control by" Pakistan? 19 USC Section 2601 (2) (C).

Second, coins of all periods are legally bought and sold in Pakistan. So, why should our State Department restrict Americans from buying the same type of "Pakistani" coins abroad?

Finally, metal detectors are in wide use in Pakistan.  That raises the question if they first should be regulated as both a "self-help" measure and "less drastic" remedy before import restrictions are placed on American coin collectors.  See 19 USC Section 2602 (a) (1) (A) (B).  

How to comment?  According to the State Department, 

For general comments, use http://www.regulations.gov, enter the docket [DOS-2022-0008], and follow the prompts.

Unfortunately, the links provided to comment do not appear yet to be active.  CPO hopes to update this post as soon as comments are accepted.

UPDATE (4/6/22):  The blue "comment now" button is now active on the regulations.gov website.  It may be accessed here.