Wednesday, March 17, 2021


 This is what I said today, more or less, at CPAC's public session regarding a proposed renewal of the current MOU with Egypt and a proposed new MOU with Albania:

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of James Fitzpatrick, Esq., one of the CPIA’s drafters who appeared before CPAC multiple times to emphasize the need for the Committee to follow Congressional intent.  In that spirit, I would ask you to focus on two important provisions concerning the scope and enforcement of import restrictions.  Both touch on less drastic remedies to be considered and facilitating the legal exchange of cultural property. 

The current designated list for Egypt ignores the statutory requirement that restricted objects must both be “first discovered within” and subject to Egyptian “export control.” Only coins that “exclusively” circulated within Egypt can meet both requirements, but larger denomination gold and silver Alexander the Great, Ptolemaic and Roman Egyptian coin types that circulated in quantity outside the modern borders of Egypt nonetheless ended up on the 2016 designated list.  Proponents may have raised Egypt’s so-called “closed monetary system” under the Ptolemies and Roman Provincial authorities to justify these restrictions, but that system was meant to keep foreign coins "out" and not Egyptian coins “in.”  Moreover, the borders of ancient Egypt stretched well beyond its modern borders and as stated, larger denomination Greek and Roman Egyptian Provincial coins with Greek legends are found in quantity well outside of Egypt. 

No new restrictions should be recommended for Roman Imperial, Byzantine, and Islamic issues.   Standardized Roman Imperial coins with Latin legends from the Alexandria Mint have been found in substantial numbers throughout the Empire and beyond.  In the later Byzantine and Islamic period, as in the later Roman period, standardized coinage made in Alexandria and elsewhere circulated widely.  Randy Myers speaking for the ACCG will focus on Albanian coinage, but I will also note there should be no restrictions on silver coins from there either because far more hoards of Illyrian coinage have been found in Romania than Albania.

There also is the issue of enforcement.  As the Antiquities Coalition also observes in its papers, import restrictions only apply to artifacts illicitly exported from Egypt after the December 6, 2016 effective date of the implementing regulations.  19 U.S.C § 2606.  Unfortunately, U.S. Customs applies restrictions far more broadly as embargoes on any coins imported into the U.S.   Instead, coins should only be detained and seized where there is probable cause they were illicitly exported from Egypt after December 6, 2016.  In other words, coins should no longer be seized and forfeited, and the collector deprived of their private property, solely because a coin is of a type on the designated list.   This should particularly hold for purchases from legitimate markets in the EU, UK, and Switzerland where Egyptian coins have been collected for generations.   Thank you for listening to our concerns.  I am happy to answer any questions regarding our submission.

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