Friday, July 13, 2012

It's Friday the 13th-- Cypriot Import Restrictions Renewed

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.


kyri said...

hi peter,dont you think cyprus needs some protection of its ecclesiastical artifacts? the republic has lost controll of over 2000 churches in the north,of which nearly all have been looted of their byzantine mosaics and icons.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Hi Kyri- Of course they deserve protection, and they are already protected under the "stolen from the inventory" section of the CPIA. The problem here is that they are again extending import restrictions on unprovenanced material that "looks Cypriot" (whatever that means to CBP) on items that are a little over 150 years old. They are only supposed to be able to do this if they are ethnograpic artifacts of tribal or pre-industrial cultures. Are you suggesting that Cyprus c. 1850 meets that definition? I doubt it myself, and frankly, its a bit insulting to the Cypriots to suggest the definition fits. Best, Peter

kyri said...

hi peter,cyprus was under the control of the turks till 1874 [when the uk took control] and was one of the most backward countrys of europe with the wealth of the island flowing out into the coffers of the turks for over 400 years,just like greece,with no investment on infrastructure or any heavy industry.the turks had a feudal system and peasants worked the land.pre industrial just about sums that up,so not insulting at all.
ps both my parents are greek cypriots.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Hi Kyri, I know Cyprus was occupied by the Turks and economic devlopment in that period was low, but I think "pre-industrial" or tribal suggests something less developed than Cyprus-- it presumably at least had some glass making, shipbuilding facilities and perhaps a steam engine or two by 1850, no? Anyway, perhaps further research is necessary....