Friday, March 6, 2009

Italian Tomb Robbing Down

This story has been circulating around archaeological blogs:

It is actually somewhat dated (note the reference to the deposed Culture Minister Rutelli). Anyway, it has been cited for the proposition that Italy's aggressive enforcement policies have been working. That may be true, but presumably there are other factors at work, like increased wealth in places like Sicily and S. Italy. Looting is less likely to happen where people are not so poor.

I also disagree with commentators that suggest this proves that systems akin to treasure trove and the PAS are unneeded. As long as people have metal detectors, they will find things like ancient coins. It is important to record them, and systems like treasure trove and the PAS make that far more likely.

In any event, this good news from Italy begs the question whether US import restrictions currently on a wide variety of Italian cultural artifacts are still necessary. Certainly, one would hope there would be no push to extend restrictions to ancient coins, particularly now that the situation on the ground in Italy has improved so markedly.

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