Thursday, May 20, 2010

Report on CPAC Hearing on Italian MOU-Part VI

Here is the end of my report on the 5/6 CPAC hearing on the proposed renewal of the MOU with Italy.

Clemente Marconi is a professor of Greek Art and Archaeology at NYU. He has excavated in Western Sicily. He believes the MOU has been effective tool in staunching looting and that it should be extended to include coins, which have been the targets of individuals with metal detectors. He also supports the longer term loans.

Brian Rose is the President of the AIA. The AIA has 8,000 professional members and 200,000 subscribers to its Magazine, Archaeology. He also is associated with the University of Pennsylvania Museum. He has knowledge of coins through his excavations at Troy. Italians collaborate in rights to publish archaeological material, which is welcome. Prof. Rose does not want to speak against collecting but rather in support of preservation of context. He has first hand experience about the importance of coins found in context from his excavations at Troy. Some of the coins support the view that the Romans considered themselves to be descendants of the Trojans. Rose was surprised to hear Phillipe de Montebello admit recently that he believes that the era of big museum purchases is over. Rose would like to see the MOU renewed and would support its extension to coins should Italy seek it. In response to a question from CPAC member Bob Korver (trade), Rose thinks coins found out of their original context could still be important if the new context associates them with later time periods. CPAC Chairwoman Reid asked what Rose would suggest as to coins, since it appears broad import restrictions would be impossible to enforce. In response, Rose indicated that restrictions on the early coins of Magna Graecia and the Etruscans would cover a much smaller universe of coins than restrictions that included Roman coins. He also believes that Italy should ban the use of metal detectors.

Prof. Patty Gerstenblith is a law professor at DePaul. She also acts as president of the Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation. She indicated that many of the speakers opposing the MOU were "blowing smoke." The MOU is necessary because it provides protections beyond those available under criminal law. There is no "scienter" or intent requirement for illicit artifacts to be seized. It is extremely difficult for the government to prove intent so import restrictions are an important part of the arsenal against looting. Importers may contest country of origin determinations so their rights are adequately protected under the relevant statutes. She does not believe that renewal of the restrictions is dependant on Italy's compliance with the long term loan requirements under Article II of the MOU, but she nonetheless supports long term loans.

CPAC was then invited to ask Prof. De Caro additional questions. Prof. Boyd (Museum) indicated that he favored a licit trade and rewards to finders. De Caro indicated that Italy had some provision for rewards of 1/4 of the value of the artifact for items found on private property, but there were few claimants. He also indicated that Italy allows for the export of some ancient coins. He noted there was a large seizure of ancient coins in the not too distant past. Prof. Reid (Museum) asked de Caro if Italy would contemplate something akin to the United Kingdom's Portable Antiquities Scheme. De Caro indicated there was talk about a pilot program in two regions in the North that were away from archaeologically sensitive areas.

The end. For the convenience of Cultural Property Observer readers, I will post the entire report in one blog, in a slightly edited form.

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