Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Archaeo-Blogger Provides Advance Notice of Bulgarian Restrictions

Nathan Elkins, an archaeo-blogger associated with the AIA who spoke before CPAC, appears to have received some advance notice about a MOU with Bulgaria and related import restrictions on a wide variety of cultural goods, including the following coins:
7. Coins – In copper, bronze, silver and gold. Many of the listed coins with inscriptions in Greek can be found in B. Head, Historia Numorum: A Manual of Greek Numismatics (London, 1911) and C.M. Kraay, Archaic and Classical Greek Coins (London, 1976). Many of the Roman provincial mints in modern Bulgaria are covered in I. Varbanov, Greek Imperial Coins I: Dacia, Moesia Superior, Moesia Inferior (Bourgas, 2005), id., Greek Imperial Coins II: Thrace (from Abderato Pautalia) (Bourgas, 2005), id., Greek Imperial Coins III: Thrace (from Perinthus to Trajanopolis), Chersonesos Thraciae, Insula Thraciae, Macedonia (Bourgas 2007). A non-exclusive list of pre-Roman and Roman mints include Mesembria (modern Nesembar), Dionysopolis (Balchik), Marcianopolis (Devnya), Nicopolis ad Istrum (near Veliko Tarnovo), Odessus (Varna), Anchialus (Pomorie), Apollonia Pontica (Sozopol), Cabyle (Kabile), Deultum (Debelt), Nicopolis ad Nestum (Garmen), Pautalia (Kyustendil), Philippopolis (Plovdiv), Serdica (Sofia), and Augusta Traiana (Stara Zagora). Later coins may be found in A. Radushev and G. Zhekov, Catalogue of Bulgarian MedievalCoins IX-XV c. (Sofia 1999) and J.Youroukova and V. Penchev, Bulgarian Medieval Coins and Seals (Sofia 1990).
a. Pre-monetary media of exchange including “arrow money,” bells, and bracelets. Approximate date: 13th century B.C. through 6th century B.C.
b. Thracian and Hellenistic coins struck in gold, silver, and bronze by city-states and kingdoms that operated in the territory of the modern Bulgarian state. This designation includes official coinages of Greek-using city-states and kingdoms, Sycthian and Celtic coinage, and local imitations of official issues. Also included are Greek coins from nearby regions that are found in Bulgaria. Approximate date: 6th century BC through the 1st century B.C.
c. Roman provincial coins – Locally produced coins usually struck in bronze or copper at mints in the territory of the modern state of Bulgaria. May also be silver, silver plate, or gold. Approximate date: 1st century BC through the 4th century A.D.
d. Coinage of the First and Second Bulgarian Empires and Byzantine Empire – Struck in gold, silver, and bronze by Bulgarian and Byzantine emperors at mints within the modern state of Bulgaria. Approximate date: 4th century A.D. through A.D. 1396.
e. Ottoman coins – Struck at mints within the modern state of Bulgaria. Approximate date: A.D. 1396 through A.D. 1750.
Elkins suggests, without providing any supporting evidence,  that the restrictions comply with the governing statute, the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA), because such coins "primarily circulated in and are found in ancient Bulgaria."   But the plain meaning of the statue only allows for restrictions of artifacts "first discovered within" and "subject to the export" control of Bulgaria, a far stricter standard.  19 U.S.C. Section 2601 (2).  Moreover, there is a real question whether restrictions on "Greek coins from nearby regions that are found in Bulgaria" provides importers with fair notice of what is restricted, a requirement not only of 19 U.S.C. Section 2604 but of constitutional due process.

Finally, it's worth noting that the same coins that are now restricted for American collectors are freely and legally available for sale within Bulgaria itself, and that public comments received by CPAC were overwhelmingly against restrictions:of the 499 relevant comments posted on the website (a few meant for the MOU with Belize were listed on the docket for Bulgaria), 353 (mostly coin collectors) were opposed to the MOU while only 146 favored it (or 71%-29%).  So, we again have a situation where State and Customs have not only ignored the law but the majority of public comments.  More evidence, if any were needed, that the entire CPAC process has become a farce of the sort we hear is common in infamously corrupt places like Bulgaria, but supposedly not here in our own Democracy.  


Nathan Elkins said...

Oh, conspiracy! You are aware that there is thing called Google Alerts, right? Both of the sources cited are publicly available. But conspiracies are more fun, right?

And as far as "found in" vs. "made in", what evidence do you provide except glib assertions that coins circulated widely? Types that are restricted in existing MoUs are those that tended to have limited areas of circulation, e.g. provincial coinage. Archaeological and numismatic research has borne out. Widely circulating types, e.g. Republican denarii and imperial denarii, have not been restricted. Let's have some honesty for a change.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Well, well are you suggesting that you had no advance notice of this? If so, that would not square with the picture suggested by FOIA releases and the like--there appears to be backchannel discussions between the AIA and State which collectors are not privy to. If so, so be it, but I get Google alerts for import restricions and none has been received as yet-- certainly the FED REG notice is not the sort of notice one gets from being registered to receive the same electonically each day.

As to the found in versus produced in distinction, found in and subject to export control is the requirement of the statute, and its not phrased in terms of "probability". IIn any event, the burden on this was supposed to be on the proponents-- perhaps you will publish your research.

Finally, note again that the vast majority of public comments opposed this MOU or restrictions on coins. Moreover, there is a large internal market in these coins in Bulgaria itself, two key facts you gloss over in your own blog.

Paul Barford said...

"a large internal market" ,

But that honesty to which Dr Elkins was referring would entail admitting that the CCPIA does not regulate "buying" but the movement of coins from one country to another.

I think it's rather important to consider "who" those "disinterested members of the public" were, and "why" (really) they opposed the MOU. I suspect those who were assessing the pros and cons took that bias of the "sample" into account.

It is also worth noting (as I documented on my blog at the time) that the justifications many of them offered were well outside the topics the public consultation is specifically asked to address.

Don't you think that all those factors cast some doubt on the validity of your argument?

Cultural Property Observer said...

I'm not sure I understand your point. If this is about preserving archaeology as you, Elkins and the AIA have claimed, then the existence of a large internal market is very relevant. I'm not aware of any government agency being able to limit public comment on a particular issue in the way you suggest-- its part of our rights to petition the government, you know.

Paul Barford said...

"I'm not sure I understand your point"
No, I am sure you don't. But is it can't or won't?

Where in the 1970 "Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property " does it say a single word about its function being to "protect archaeology"? Perhaps we could just stick to what the Convention is about, and not add spurious arguments.

I am not suggesting any agency "limits" discussion, but feel you are being far too liberal in what you take out of context in an attempt to use it as "evidence".

Cultural Property Observer said...

Thank you for confirming it's really not about protecting archaeological context but supporting nationalistic claims to everything and anything ever made within the confines of the borders of a modern nation state-- cultural nationalism I believe they call it or from an archaeological perspective-- if you give us excavation permits we will support any nationalistic claim you might make....

Wayne G. Sayles said...

The Bulgarian MOU is just window dressing.  After the demise of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria was in free fall.  The government at that time ignored many of the laws of the previous regime, including the cultural property laws.  According to some accounts, the biggest exporter of ancient coins during that period was a relative of the country's Attorney General.  As a result, every country in Europe and North America, undoubtedly Asia too, is now flooded with coins of Bulgarian origin that were exported at that time with full knowledge and acquiescence of the government in power.  How can one say they are illicit?  How can international exchange of these coins be condemned?  These coins came from  everyday finds accumulated over a half century of repression when it was even difficult to get a visa to visit a relative outside of Bulgaria.  Most of those coins are already outside Bulgaria.  So, what value is the import restriction now?  This whole State Department program of glad-handing and self-aggrandizement does nothing to change the facts of supply and demand.  If they want collector cooperation in the preservation of certain national treasures, they will not get it this way.  Unfortunately, it seems that they are not really seeking collector cooperation, they are content to treat collectors as the evil empire and court the faultless archaeological community. To anyone who follows governance in America these days that should not be any great surprise.

Paul Barford said...

I "confirmed" nothing, I merely referred you to the actual text of the Convention where it is in black and white what it is for. I find it puzzling why Americans imagine it is for anything else.

The UK has no excavation permit system, but still has export licences. There is no real connection, in reality these documents regulate two entirely different things. It's again all in your imagination, invented conspiracies are more fun than reality, eh?

Cultural Property Observer said...

The legislative history of the CPIA (the only operative legislation) indicates protecting archaeological resources is a consideration, but not the only one--it's supposed to be a balance.

Paul Barford said...

We seem to be talking about different things. I referred to an international Convention (what we were talking about, surely), you mention a local law.

There IS actually a whole world out here, outside the USA, you know?

Cultural Property Observer said...

Come now, you know that the UNESCO Convention is not self-executing and that it only has effect through the CPIA. Archeology was an important consideration, but certainly not the only one. Look at the composition of CPAC. 3 archaeologists, the rest representing other interests.

stoutstandards said...

Whenever the gentleman from Warsaw is confronted with a response he does not like or hasn't a good answer for, expect the following....

"We seem to be talking about different things"