It’s Friday the 13th and the State Department and US Customs and Border Protection have extended the current import restrictions on Cypriot archaeological artifacts for another five years. The restrictions on coins remain unchanged (despite demands from archaeologists that such restrictions be extended to Crusader issues):
D. Coins of Cypriot Types
Coins of Cypriot types made of gold, silver, and bronze including but not limited to:
1. 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.
2. Issues of the Hellenistic period, such as those of Paphos, Salamis, and Kition from 332 B.C. to c. 30 B.C.
3. Provincial and local issues of the Roman period from c. 30 B.C. to 235 A.D. 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.
What has changed is that there are new restrictions on ecclesiastical objects dating to 1850. This is another example of State Department and CBP overreach—restrictions on ethnological artifacts were only meant to extend to the products of tribal and pre-industrial cultures, not religious artifacts made as late as 1850.
In any event, by its actions the Obama State Department has ratified the decisions of the Bush State Department despite credible information that the decision to extend import restrictions to coins was made against CPAC’s recommendations based on little more than cronyism and behind the scenes lobbying of then Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is yet to decide whether the State Department will be required to respond to these allegations or not. Certainly the public has already spoken with some 77% of the latest public comments to CPAC either opposed to the MOU or its extension to coins.