On October 25, 2016, the United States Cultural Property Advisory Committee met to discuss the renewals of the current MOUs with Cyprus and Peru. The following members were present: (1) Nina Achabal (NA) (Museum Representative); (2) Lothar von Falkenhausen (LVF) (Archaeological Representative); (3) Patty Gerstenblith (PG) (Public Representative-Chair); (4) Jane Levine (JL) (Trade Representative); (5) Thomas Murray (TM) (Trade Representative); (6) Katherine Reid (KR) (Museum Representative); (7) Marta de La Torre (MDLT) (Public Representative); and (8) Nancy Wilkie (NW) (Archaeological Representative). This will be the last meeting for Patty Gerstenblith and several other CPAC members who have been replaced late in President Obama’s term.
The following speakers appeared to discuss the MOU with Cyprus: (1) Josh Knerly (JK) (Association of Art Museum Directors) (JK); (2) Carmen Arnold-Biucchi (CAB) (Harvard); (3) Jane DeRose Evans (CDE) (Temple); (4) Peter K. Tompa (PKT) (International Association of Professional Numismatists/Professional Numismatics Guild); (5) Nathan Elkins (NE) (Baylor); (6) Paul Keen (PK) (University of Massachusetts); (7) Andrew McCarthy (AM) (Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute) (CAARI); (8) Bryan Wilkins (BW) (CAARI); and (9) Joan Connelly (JC) (New York University), a former CPAC member representing the interests of the archaeological community.
The following speakers appeared to discuss the Peruvian MOU: (1) Brian Bauer (BB) (University of Illinois); and (2) Josh Knerly (JK) (AAMD)
There were also representatives of the State Department, and the Cypriot and Peruvian governments present in the room to hear the testimony.
Josh Knerly (JK)- Thanks PG for her service. AAMD supports the renewal with qualifications. There needs to be benchmarks to address problems in both the Northern Turkish Republic and Republic of Cyprus itself. JK refers to his paper and asks for questions. MDLT asks about inventories. JK says inventories should be done to protect the contents of all structures, including mosques.
Carmen Arnold Biucchi (CAB)-Thinks all statutory criteria met. Designated list should be extended to Byzantine coins. Coins struck in Cyprus mainly stayed there. CAB advocates that Cyprus adopt Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme. TM applauds her suggestion about the creation of a legal market in Cyprus. There is no need to hold redundant material in basements. NW asks about Byzantine coins. CAB maintains the Byzantine coins struck on the Island did not circulate off the Island in great quantities. They were not mainly gold coins, which did circulate. NA and PG ask about the archaeological value of coins which CAB confirms.
Jane DeRose Evans (JDE)-The Antiquities Department promptly investigates looting. Coins found by metal detectors are easily smuggled. Agrees with suggestion for restrictions on Byzantine coins. Says selling coins found on state controlled archaeological sites won’t make much money because their value is minimal. JDE emphasizes she is not against collecting well provenance coins. JVF opines that looting of coins causes huge damage to the archaeological record. ASOR wants to promote responsible collecting. TM notes that partage was a good system that has allowed artifacts to be displayed in museums. KR indicates times have changed since partage and now long term loans are desirable.
Peter K. Tompa (PKT)- Unfortunately, the system appears to be rigged. When the CPIA was being discussed, a top State Department lawyer represented to Congress that import restrictions on coins would be unlikely. This changed with the Cypriot MOU in 2007. Two CPAC members have stated under oath that the change was made against CPAC’s recommendations and that the State Department sought to mislead the Congress and the public about it. More troublingly, it was recently determined that the decision maker made the decision after accepting a job with Goldman Sachs, where she was recruited by and works for a top Goldman Sachs partner who is married to an AIA Trustee and well known heritage lobbyist. Moreover, things have not changed. Just recently, the AIA also awarded the current State Department decision maker at a swank gala hosted by this power couple.
Substantively, PKT notes that Cyprus is an Island astride major trade routes so of course coins circulated as proved in a scholarly paper attached to PKT’s submission. In any event, the governing statute only authorizes restrictions on coins that were first discovered within and are hence subject to the export control of Cyprus. Thus, the standard is whether such coins are “exclusively” found in Cyprus, not generally found or some lesser standard. Only coins actually found in Cyprus can be subject to Cypriot export controls. Paying archaeological workers a fair living wage and better site security in the long off season should be investigated. Finally, Cyprus should consider instituting a Treasure Act or Portable Antiquities Scheme.
PKT's full oral comments can be found here. IAPN/PNG's written comments can be found here.
PG and NW maintain that the AIA Trustee was not a Trustee back in 2007. PKT responds that no one just comes out of nowhere to become a Trustee and there was likely some related work beforehand. In any case, better transparency on how these decisions are made may help clear up such suspicions.
PG asks PKT about NE’s claim that 80% of Cypriot coins are found on Cyprus. PKT notes this must be an aggregate figure and that presumably coins from the Ptolemaic and Roman Empires circulated within those Empires. He notes that Roman Provincial coins from Cyprus are struck on the same standard as the Imperial issues and would have circulated in places like Turkey.
MDLT notes that CPAC’s recommendations are advisory. PKT notes that is true but if State rejects them, State is obliged to justify the change in official government reports which was not done and that the decision maker making her decision after taking a job at Goldman Sachs was troubling.
NW asks if State Department Lawyer’s statement to Congress was made before metal detectors become prevalent. PKT indicates they were in use in the 1970’s before the CPIA was passed.
JL asks about collectors maintaining provenance. PKT says this is easier for expensive items like those at auction at Sotheby’s. He notes some collectors have thousands of low value coins.
Nathan Elkins (NE) discusses unprovenanced coins on eBay. He maintains the IAPN’s data is selective. Discusses his own data that led to his conclusion that 80% of Cypriot coins found in Cyprus. States that a US District Court has rejected PKT’s “first discovered within” argument. (Note, context is important, that decision was made under a very limited “ultra vires” review of government decision making.)
Paul Keen (PK) discusses coins as archaeological artifacts and their importance in dating sites. He also maintains Cypriot coins did not travel. PK talks about a commercial hoard from Jordan he reconstituted that was sold in parcels in London, Paris and Malibu. The original hoard had 1000 coins. NW asks whether the hoard would have more value as a whole. PK says yes, but buyers more likely to purchase piecemeal.
Andrew McCarthy (AM) is director of CAARI. Notes US Government support for his organization. Cypriot Government very welcoming host to American archaeologists. Government addresses looting promptly. KR asks about accusations of Paphos Mayor that local Antiquities Department personnel had stolen artifacts from storage. AM says this is a smokescreen because the antiquities authority is holding up local road construction. He produces documents from excavators and police that purport to exonerate the antiquities service.
Bryan Wilkins (BW) is President of CAARI. Maintains MOUs have helped in a decline in looting. Notes US State Department support including a $100,000 grant per year for the purpose of funding two scholars. Notes outreach efforts to local communities to enlighten them about the dangers of looting. Discussion of shipwreck now in Northern Cyprus. KR discusses long term loans. NA notes some of the Cesnola collection now on display in Nicosia.
Joan Connelly (JC) attributes all Cyprus’ problems to Turkish invasion. Sets forth her close relationship with the Cypriot Antiquities service and her long work on the Island. (Note: Perhaps IAPN/PNG’s 2007 request that she be recused from voting on the Cyprus MOU request should have been granted after all.) Discusses 15 American digs on Island. Calls for AAMD to apologize for suggesting the Turkish Republic for Northern Cyprus is a recognized political entity. Attacks the AAMD’s suggestion that benchmarks be set for the renewal of the next MOU as “neo-colonialist.” In response to question from NA, attacks PAS and Treasure Act.
JL indicates her belief that JC is misconstruing JK discussion of benchmarks. JC notes she is an honorary citizen of Paphos, decries reckless attacks of Paphos Mayor on antiquities service.
Brian Brauer (BB) states Peru has met the criteria for renewal. He notes that greater efforts must be made to ensure that site guards get a living wage. He requests new restrictions on Colonial documents and fossils. PG says that CPIA may not allow restrictions on fossils. She asks for more detail on colonial era documents. BB says now families who own old documents can sell them on eBay. They should stay in Peru. BB defers to AAMD on loans and does not express concern about benchmarks proposed by AAMD.
Josh Knerly (JK) notes he is gratified that not all proposals for benchmarks are controversial. He notes that all the issues raised by AAMD 5 years ago, especially regarding long term loans have yet to be addressed. There is some discussion of on-line inventories so that items may be selected for loans. PG expresses concern that these only be made available to museums so that thieves will not get valuable information.
Thanks for doing this, Peter.
It's very important that there shall be a strong, continuing voice for sanity and reason in the conduct of US cultural heritage policy.
Apart from all other considerations, the superannuation of Maria Kouroupas impends. Her political connections do not confer immortality upon her. At some point in the not very distant future, we may expect that advancing age and infirmity will sideline the most dangerous and destructive personality the collecting community has ever faced, in the adverse development of US cultural heritage policy.
You have, through many and various aspects of service to the interests of collectors and the small businesses that supply them, effectively become their "leader of the opposition."
I personally regard "the Gathering Storm" as one of the most convincing expositions of the utter and unconscionable folly of pandering to insensate and foolish "political correctness." In this volume Churchill settled, I believe forever, all questions regarding whether his long and often lonely opposition to the politics of future irretrievable disaster was justified. The verdict of history is that it was not only justified, but memorably heroic.
Keep that in mind whenever you are feeling lonely and not very well supported. I at any rate will be with you to the death, and then beyond, as my well known personal beliefs indicate.
Thanks Dave, much appreciated. Unfortunately, this is now larger than just the bureaucracy and academic archaeologists. The ECA as a whole is behind this supported by a well funded and connected advocacy organization, the Antiquities Coalition. What's concerning is its lack of transparency about its relationships with foreign source countries like Egypt and its funding mechanisms.
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