Monday, August 10, 2009

IAA Launches a Campaign to Register Antiquities Collectors

The Israeli Antiquities Authority has launched a campaign to force an estimated 100,000 antiquities collectors to register. See:

Penalties for not registering are steep. Those who fail to register face a possible six months in jail and a fine.

The article states,

According to a law passed in 2002, an "antiquities collector" is anyone with 15 or more artifacts, and all antiquities collectors must register with the IAA. However, only several hundred collectors are currently known to the state.

"Maybe some of them have a specific item that is very important to archeology and nobody knows about it, so we need to know what they have,"Amir Ganor, director of the IAA's Prevention of Antiquities Theft and Supervision of Antiquities Sales Division, told The Jerusalem Post.

The article continues,

Those who report their antiquities will receive a certificate designating them as a collector and, if they choose, an appraisal of the historical significance of their artifacts. Ganor made it clear that collectors would not be asked to give up any of their artifacts. "The items belong to the collector, and we are not trying to take anything from the collector," he said.

Other countries -- like Cyprus and Greece-- also require collectors to register. Hopefully, the Israeli registration system will not be too onerous and thus over time devolve into a system where only wealthy, "connected," people become "registered collectors." That would be a particular shame given the Israeli public's deep interest in preserving, displaying and studying artifacts from the past.

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