Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cypriot Corruption Not Like PAS

Archaeo-blogger Paul Barford has put up a story on his blog about wealthy Cypriot collectors getting their collections of antiquities looted from Northern Cyprus "legalized" by the Cypriot antiquities authority. Subsequently, these same collectors purchased materials looted from a cemetary in the Greek controlled area of Cyprus and nothing was done. Inexplicably, Barford claims this is just like the PAS. See and

No, Mr. Barford, the Treasure Act and PAS is predicated on the rule of law. Everyone is treated equally and society as a whole benefits. This, in contrast, exemplifies the corrupt nature of the Greek-Cypriot state where how the law is applied depends on who you are, and the connected few are allowed to collect as much looted material as they want.

It is also worth noting that the archaeological community's unqualified support for import restrictions on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus only helps prop up such a corrupt system. Hopefully, the State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and CPAC will take notice when the current Cypriot MOU comes up for renewal.


samarkeolog said...

I disagree with the Cypriot antiquities department's secret agreement with private collectors between 1963 and 1973; however, it was a policy born of desperation.

The archaeologists desperately wanted to prevent the loss of their illicitly-excavated cultural heritage to international private collectors who did not care that they were buying stolen property, and thereby funding ultra-nationalist paramilitaries who terrorised and slaughtered civilians.

Why would an honourable collector/lawyer take advantage of whatever corruption there may be, and (misguided) efforts to combat political violence-funding cultural destruction, in order to lobby for the weakening of Cypriot cultural heritage protection?

The reason the policy was wrong was that the state and its trusted allies merely replaced the international art collectors as the ultimate funders of the looting and violence.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Thank you for your comment. Cyprus is entitled to promulgate any cultural property laws it deems appropriate. But those laws should be applied consistently and the fact there is one law for the wealthy collector another for everyone else should weigh heavily against US Customs and the US State Department helping Cyprus to enforce those laws outside its own jursidiction.