Italy has one of the world’s richest economies. Yet, ..efforts to reform the system have run up against an entrenched cultural bureaucracy and given serious under funding, “passive preservation” has become the rule. In such an environment, it is no wonder that Italy has done a poor job taking care of the coins at state institutions and archaeological sites. In particular,
- Coins in museums have historically suffered from major thefts and poor internal documentation.
- Institutional collections are poorly documented in published form.
- The publication record for coins found in Italian excavations is poor.
- Without publication it is almost impossible to know what has been found and what has become of the material.
This of course suggests that the Italian state may not be the best steward of common artifacts like coins—and collectors should continue to be able to study, preserve and display them through their own efforts.
Interestingly, neither Stefano De Caro nor anyone else from the archaeological community contested these facts, and, indeed I recall De Caro admitting that publishing coins was "difficult."
Yet, Mr. De Caro defended Italy's claims to all coins struck there in ancient times, stating they were being made on behalf of "Pax Britannia," etc. Is De Caro's claims to all ancient coins struck in Italy aimed at furthering scholarship and the preservation of these common artifacts or is it in reality about nationalism and bureaucratic control? Do the facts deceive us or is the Italian cultural bureaucracy really the best steward for ancient coins struck in Italy? And what are the AIA's views about the state of coins under the care of the Italian cultural bureaucracy and Mr. De Caro's claims to all ancient coins struck in Italy?